Restraining Order Hearing Results in Judicial Misconduct Charges

Toms River Restraining Order Defense LawyersIf you want to know how not to address an alleged rape victim who is seeking a restraining order, then you can learn a lot from Ocean County Family Court Judge who was appointed in 2015.  

During a May 2016 domestic violence hearing in which the judge was deciding whether to issue a restraining order to a woman who claimed that she was raped.  The woman recounted that the rapist physically and verbally abused her, threatened to burn her house down, stole from her, and threatened to kidnap their daughter if she left him.  The judge then asked “Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?”  This question, of course, came after the woman explained that the rapist had physically and verbally abused her.  

The judge followed up by asking whether the victim knew how to stop a rape without physical contact and suggesting, “Block your body parts? Close your legs?  Call the police?  Did you do any of those things?”  

The insensitive line of questioning toward the rape victim and misunderstanding of a trauma victim’s perspective, resulted in allegation against this family court judge.  Another judicial misconduct violation was alleged in a separate case wherein this jurist was accused of failing to recuse himself from a divorce case where he knew the parties since high school.  The Ocean County Assignment Judge has indicated that the judge has made threatening or bizarre statements, exhibited explosive fits of rage, lacked appropriate courtroom demeanor or reasonable legal competence in the field of law assigned to him, and otherwise exhibited extreme emotional immaturity.  In addition, the judge had four different law clerks in one year because three of the four left, citing mistreatment in chambers.  

The judge has refused to take a mental competence test at the behest of the court system, has been on paid administrative leave since May 2017.  The taxpayers of New Jersey are currently paying for his administrative leave while he faces charges of judicial misconduct.  How To Defend An Ocean County Restraining OrderA restraining order is a court order that is meant to protect a victim of domestic violence or other type of offense, like stalking.  The essence of a restraining order is to keep, or “restrain,” an alleged abuser from coming near a victim.  

New Jersey law allows for two types of restraining orders – a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a final restraining order (FRO).  Both types of orders are meant as a way to protect the victim.  They are not meant to penalize the alleged abuser.  However, a TRO or FRO could cause difficulty for the alleged abuser if both parties live in the same house.  A restraining order would force the alleged abuser to live apart from the victim.  

Temporary restraining orders are frequently issued to provide temporary protection for a victim of domestic abuse.  To issue a TRO, a judge needs a sufficient basis to believe that domestic violence has occurred.  A TRO hearing is typically a unilateral proceeding, during which only the victim provides the allegations of domestic violence.  The alleged abuser is not a party to the hearing.

By contrast, a final restraining order hearing, which is conducted within ten days of the issuance of the TRO, is before a Superior Court judge, and both parties are permitted to give their side of the story during the hearing.  The standard of proof for an FRO is “preponderance of the evidence.”  Accordingly, a victim can obtain an FRO if he or she can show by a preponderance (i.e., more likely than not) that the alleged abuser did, in fact, commit the alleged abuse.  

FROs remain in effect permanently.  Only the victim can move the court to remove an FRO.  There is a court procedure for removing a restraining order, and the victim receives counseling from a Domestic Violence Counselor prior to the hearing to ensure that the victim is not being coerced.  

Another important thing to remember is that violation of a restraining order is a separate matter than results in a criminal offense for contempt. Accordingly, if an alleged abuser violates a restraining order, then he or she will not only have to answer for the alleged abuse (e.g. criminal charge for harassment, assault, terroristic threat, etc.) but also an offense for criminal contempt - commonly referred to as a restraining order violation.  Ocean County Defense Attorneys Can Help You At a Restraining Order HearingThe Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall has decades of experience defending clients at restraining order hearings.  Serving Toms River, Brick, and all municipalities in Ocean County for more than 100 years combined, the defense attorneys at our firm possess the know how and familiarity with the court system that you need if you are looking for success. In addition, our track record of favorable outcomes, which spans decades at the Ocean County Superior Court in Toms River, demonstrates that we are extremely dedicated and a team of lawyers that you can count on at a FRO hearing.  If you have been served with a restraining order, issued a restraining order violation or have been accused of domestic violence, we invite you to contact our office at 732-286-6500 to speak to an accomplished restraining order defense lawyer immediately.  An attorney is available to assist you in a free consultation 24/7.

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