Temporary Restraining Orders, commonly referred to as TROs, are granted by judges like Herb Dodell who sit alone in their chambers reading six-page petitions filed by somebody who isn’t happy with someone else.

In the most serious cases, the person who did the filing (the Petitioner), honestly fears for their safety or well being if something isn’t done to stop the other person, called the Respondent, from getting to them, stalking them, harassing them, threatening them, or making their life a living nightmare. Think batterers released from jail, obsessed or vengeful ex-partners, unrequited lovers, and other bullies of all manner, ilk, and size. These Petitioners are the ones for whom the law was truly written, and judges take their circumstances very, very seriously. We don’t want to not help someone in real danger or under real strain of harassment.

In the vast majority of cases, though, the Petitioner is simply annoyed, angry, or aggravated because another person is creating too much noise, crossing over their property line, making a move on their significant other (real or perceived), or in some other way just plain irritating them beyond their level of tolerance. They feel harassed.

Most of these cases should be part of a law suit filed in civil court, where the parties can work out their financial or territorial disagreements. In fact, if Dodell had his way, filing a TRO petition for anything other than real threat of danger or unreasonable harassment would carry serious consequences for the Petitioner. Too many of them showed up in his courtroom as requests for an immediate TRO with a permanent-injunction hearing to be set two to three weeks later.