Friday, March 5, 2010

DV = Domestic Violence = Deputy Villella

CourtWatch monitored the Villella injunction hearing held on March 2nd, which involved a lengthy conference at the bench so the press could not hear. What wasn't reported in the media is that the "no hostile contact" was the Judge's idea!

In spite of having his own attorney, it appeared to me that the petitioner in this case was intimidated into acquiescing. I hope the petitioner doesn't get a false sense of security thinking that this injunction has any teeth.

There is no wiggle room in Florida Statute 741.31(4)(a)5 for "no hostile contact." Intimate partners have numerous non-verbal ways they communicate with one another. In a healthy relationship, these might constitute an "inside joke" or word/gesture of endearment. In an abusive relationship, they engender fear.

An abuser can be very crafty about the methods they use to intimidate their victim. For example, one woman's husband routinely removed his wedding ring and set it upon the fireplace mantel before he beat her. The gesture terrified her. When she finally had the courage to seek an injunction, and they were in court, he calmly removed his wedding ring and set it on the table.

Needless to say, the meaning was crystal clear to his wife. It was a hostile gesture that communicated his intention to do violence. Yet no one else in the courtroom even realized the implication of his action.

Therefore, the concept of a "No Hostile Contact" order is ridiculous. Imagine the wife in the above scenario attempting to convince a law enforcement officer to arrest her husband because he removed his wedding band. No officer would. And the abuser knows it.

Non-hostile contact orders simply empower an abuser to continue abusing - albeit in a less overtly "hostile" manner than before.

They are simply not enforceable.


  1. If the petitioner was requesting no contact, how did Judge Kest figure no hostile contact was an intelligent option?

  2. And what was it that made you think he was being intimidated into acquiescing???? No hostile contact makes it easier for the petitioning party to actually put the person back in jail as the respondent may have a false sense of security. The respondent could call the petitioner, since that would be allowed, and the petitioner could then say whatever he wanted to get a rule to show case.

  3. No hostile contact injunctions, as I mentioned in the blog, are not enforceable for two reasons:
    1. A "covert" act of hostility, like the wedding band story I mentioned, will probably never be acted upon by law enforcement because it doesn't involve a battery with injuries that could be documented. No one will get arrested.
    2. Even if it's a more "overt" scenario where the Respondent yells at the Petitioner, unless there is a corroborating witness or other evidence, the same problem exists. In a "he said - she said" situation, where the burden of proof falls on the Petitioner, the judge will likely not be convinced if the Petitioner files a Notice of Violation.

    No Hostile Contact injunctions empower an abuser to continue to behave abusively toward their victim and therefore teach their victim that law enforcement can't/won't help because they didn't witness the "hostile" contact.

  4. I totally agree with you Laura and your assessment of the situation. This is a ridiculous order and the petitioner is no better off now then before the hearing. This only gives the respondent a sense that the law is on HIS side and not taking the petitioner seriously. Furthermore, it is never "easy" for a petitioner and they ALWAYS have the burden of proof.