VICTORVILLE, Calif. (AP) Katie Tagle pleaded with the judge that her ex-boyfriend had threatened to kill their 9-month-old son and himself if the couple did not reconcile. She wanted the judge to revoke the boyfriend's custody of the baby with a restraining order.I am going to defend the judge here. Restraining orders do not prevent murder.
"I'm going to deny it ma'am," San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Robert Lemkau said. "My suspicion is that you're lying."
Ten days later, Stephen Garcia shot and killed the baby before turning the gun on himself. ...
Nonetheless, he stands by his decision "based on the evidence before me."
"If you are a homicidal, suicidal psychopath, you are not going to be persuaded by a restraining order," the judge said. "It's not like I released a psychopath onto the street he was already on the street."
The only way to stop a homicidal, suicidal psychopath is throw him in jail indefinitely or to spend millions of dollars on a team of Secret Service agents. We cannot jail men based on just a suspicion about an anonymous email.
Millions of these orders are granted every year. Most of them are bogus. Some of them do prevent harassment, stalking, and other annoyances. They do not prevent murder. And yet it is cases like this which are used to justify a lot of the orders, because judges are asked to be overly cautious and issue the order.
I listened to a radio talk show discuss this issue.
One woman called and said that she and her husband sometimes have fight about various domestic issues, such as carrying out the garbage, and she often calls the cops. But she complained that the cops are patronizing towards her, and don't take her seriously. I guess that her point was that the authorities do not always listen to a woman's domestic complaints.
Other callers blamed the mom for having a baby with such an unstable man, or for not
kidnapping the baby and refusing visitation. I don't think that we have enough info to blame her, but I suspect that there are measures that she could have taken that would have worked better than relying on a judge. The judge can do very little in a case like this.
A caller identified himself as a Monterey divorce lawyer and judge, and explained how the court is swamped with bogus restraining order requests. He said that the order would not have done any good, and evidence justified rejecting the order. But at the end of the call, the host asked him whether he would have issued the order as a judge. He said that he would have, because he wants to always err on the side of caution.
The host said that he did not think that judges should have to face re-election, because judges have to make gutsy decisions that can be unpopular.