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Restraining Orders Are Used as Offensive Weapons To Hurt Men More Often Than They Protect Anyone
From: Larry A. Sonna [mailto:larry_sonna@hotmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 20, 2006 4:47 PM
To: Mike Franco
Subject: 209A as a weapon of abuse
A little tidbit for you on the 209A that you might find interesting and perhaps even helpful to your efforts to get the law changed:

My wife and I are in the middle of a divorce that is headed for trial after almost 3 years of acrimony. I have since moved to Virginia and live 500 miles away; nevertheless, she repeatedly renewed a 209A protection order (originally issued after a fight we had), even after I moved away, until it was made permanent. No surprise so far, right? But here's the catch: In an effort to prevent me from showing up at the divorce trial (and thus win a
default judgment), she has also made repeated allegations to the police of violations of the 209A, and informed me of same, knowing full well that police policy in MA is to arrest automatically. She also knows that, as a medical professional, an arrest could result in suspension of my license, even if the arrest is subsequently ruled to have been unfounded. The fact that the 209A was never served (because I live in Virginia) matters not in
MA - police policy is to arrest on allegations of 209A violations and let the Courts sort it out.

I've spoken to my lawyers about this ridiculous state of affairs and was informed that there is no legal vehicle at present to rectify the situation. A permanent order can't be challenged, even though I was living 500 miles away at the time and couldn't afford to travel back to oppose it at the time. So, I'm confronted with a dilemma: Do I throw away my future career and come to MA to be arrested "automatically", or do I throw away my future earning potential by defaulting at my own trial?

The 209A was originally intended to protect women from abuse. But in the right hands, as the anecdote above shows, it is a powerful weapon that can be used to inflict abuse.