NCFM NOTE: NCFM filed an amicus brief on behalf of NCFM Member Alexander Baker’s lawsuit against vague definitions of domestic violence. All too often such vagueness is used to issue protective orders against innocent men which in turn strips them of thier dignity, children, property, livelihood and even their life by suicide. Below is an article written by Mr. Baker better explaining the need for his lawsuit and NCFM’s supporting amicus brief. Near the end of the article Mr. Baker provides a link to a GoFundMe site where he asks for support to help cover the cost of his litigation. Please contribute if you can. Harry Crouch, President.
Men’s Rights and Rosa Parks
Tens of thousands of men are discriminated against, destroyed and deposed annually by vague and misused definitions of domestic violence. It has to stop. Jail seems preferable to obeying resulting court orders. We need another Rosa Parks…
Like so many other people – mostly men – I am a victim of California’s unfair and discriminatory law called the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, the “DVPA”. I had my children taken away from me. My name was entered into the criminal database along with murderers and pedophiles. I have been gagged, disallowed from posting documents and discussing my case in public.
And just what was my crime? My “domestic violence”? I won a copyright infringement lawsuit against my ex business partner, who also happens to be my ex wife. I made an internet blog where I posted court documents and discussed what appears to be corruption in the music business. I contacted business associates and threatened to file another lawsuit, based on what I had discovered in the meantime. Then, I did indeed file additional lawsuits for fraud, conversion and other issues, against my ex wife and others.
Emotional Upset = Domestic Violence?
My litigation and public discussion upset my ex wife. Under the DVPA, the mere fact that she was emotionally upset is all that was needed for a domestic violence restraining order (“DVRO”).
A family court judge can issue a DVRO after finding a single instance of “abuse”, which can be found simply because a person, usually a woman, became emotionally upset. If you think this is an exaggeration, then you don’t know the law in California. Here is the transcript of a conversation that took place on the record in my DVPA case:
ALEX: I believe that what I need to do to defend myself in this action is to demonstrate that my lawsuits are meritorious. I think that is what is at issue here.
THE COURT: I’m not — I am not going to be the arbiter of whether or not they are [meritorious] or not. You might believe that they are. They might in fact be. [Clara] does not believe that they are, and that they have been used as a method to harass her.
ALEX: Right, but so isn’t —
THE COURT: It doesn’t matter whether they are [meritorious]. I’m not going to decide that. Some of them have already been decided in your favor, some of them not. I’m not going to decide.
ALEX: Well, I think that —
THE COURT: Nor do I need to.
ALEX: I believe that’s the issue before this court in some part.
THE COURT: I do not. I do not.
ALEX: So it makes no difference whether my cases are meritorious or whether they’re brought simply to harass, it makes no difference to this court?
THE COURT: I think what is at issue, your belief that they are meritorious, [Clara’s] belief that they are not. Whether in fact they are [meritorious] or not, it really doesn’t matter.
ALEX: Why not?
THE COURT: Because it’s the effect that the litigation has had on her irrespective of whether the cases have any merit.
In a ruling which has now been upheld by the Court of Appeal, the Family Court Judge even went so far as to find that my filing defense papers in the DVPA case itself were found to “control” my ex wife, and thus constitute domestic violence. Did you catch that? Trying to mount a legal defense in a DVPA case is now domestic violence.
Now consider this conversation, in which I asked about the “good cause” for a restraining order preventing me from seeing my daughter:
ALEX: For the record, could you please state what the good cause is for this restraining order?”
THE COURT: The good cause, sir, is that you have put into question whether or not this court has jurisdiction to hear any matters in your case.”
Let that sink in for a moment. The judge said that, because I brought a motion challenging the Court’s proper jurisdiction, that this constituted domestic violence such that a little girl was denied all contact with her kind and loving father. I made an oral argument to the California Court of Appeal on December 19, 2018, pointing out the absurdity of litigation as domestic violence:
ALEX: I will stipulate that litigating can be very upsetting and emotionally disturbing to the other party – the DV hearing brought against me certainly upset my peace of mind. No question about it. But would I then have the right to get a restraining order against my ex-wife? And then would she have another right to get one against me? That’s absurd.
I Refuse to “Give up my seat on the bus”
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution promises the right to free speech, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, i.e. file a lawsuit. Any prohibition of future exercise of these rights is called a “prior restraint”, and is subject to the highest level of constitutional analysis, called “strict scrutiny”. In my case, the Court of Appeal found that my prior restraints were not subject to strict scrutiny, simply because it was a DVRO.
Under the DVPA, Constitutional rights do not matter. All that matters is whether a woman testifies that something a man did or said “disturbed her peace of mind”. The DVPA has carved out a “California family members” exception to the First Amendment. It is unprecedented.
I am willfully disobeying the DVRO. I continue to pursue my lawsuit, and I am launching a YouTube channel “Postmodern Justice”, where I will post documents and discuss issues around civil and family court, including my own case.
A contempt action is threatened if I continue to publish. I have vowed not to back down. I believe I have the right to litigate, the right to post documents, and a right to discuss matters in the public interest, just as Rosa Parks believed that she had her rights. I refuse to “give up my seat on the bus”.
Preventing Actual Violence Is Good
Let me be clear: the DVPA has a good purpose. There is such a thing as domestic violence, against both women and men. Sometimes a restraining order is needed. The problem with the DVPA, however, is that definition of “abuse” is so vague that nobody knows what it means. It can mean anything.
The “abuse” definition in the DVPA begins right. Abuse is:
(1) To intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury.
(2) Sexual assault.
(3) To place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to that person or to another.
So far, so good. #1-3 above are as they should be. People know what these mean, and I am not challenging that part of the law.
A DVRO for Emotional Upset is Bad
But then, the DVPA further defines “abuse” as “disturbing the peace of mind” of the other person, which the Courts say means:
“any conduct that destroys the mental or emotional calm of the other person”
What does “destroy the mental or emotional calm” mean? Or, better yet, what doesn’t it mean? Notice that this definition of “abuse” is entirely related to the emotions of the accuser, and says nothing about the conduct of the accused.
Would wearing an “offensive” slogan on a T-Shirt constitute abuse, if it genuinely angered the other person? What about using contraceptives that the other person considers “immoral”? What about voting for the “wrong” political candidate? Each of these hypotheticals could certainly “disturb” someone’s “peace”, yet each is constitutionally protected activity. At least, they were protected until the DVPA came along.
A destroyed emotional calm could mean any mental state from “mildly annoyed” to “mortal fear of imminent death” and all points in between. To phrase it as succinctly as possible, the full range of conduct prohibited by the DVPA residual clause is unknowable.
I have never done anything violent in my entire life. Not to my children. Not to my ex wife. Not to anybody. The original complaint in my DVPA case does not allege any violence, as that term is understood. Rather, the Court in my case found my litigation to constitute domestic violence abuse, “irrespective of whether the cases had any merit”. The Court said:
“all that matters is the effect that it has had on her”
Lawsuits are the Opposite of Violence
The DVPA abuse definition is wrong. A lawsuit is not violence. A lawsuit is opposite of violence. A lawsuit is the right way to settle your disputes, and violence is the wrong way. Only a justice system steeped in post-modernist philosophy could fail to see the difference.
My case has implications far beyond just me and my personal situation. These unjust and unconstitutional DVROs are being used every single day in California Family Courts, in case after case, to gain advantage in property disputes, custody battles, and to perpetrate parental alienation. Family Law DV actions have become known as the “silver bullet”, because they are such an effective strategy.
I am challenging the DVPA definition of abuse with a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the United States Supreme Court. You can read it here:
NCFM has supported my Petition by filing an amicus curiae brief, authored by NCFM civil rights attorneys Steven Svoboda and Marc Angelucci, who serve as NCFM’s Public Relations Director and Vice President respectively. You can read the amicus brief here: Alexander Baker AMICUS BRIEF 190728
I have established a GoFundMe page to accept donations to help cover the cost of filing this U.S. Supreme Court Petition.
I have started a Petition on Change.org, where you can voice your opinion that the residual clause in the DVPA should be struck down.
In the words of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch:
A vague law is no law.
To repeat, I am not trying to overturn the entire DVPA, only the little piece of it that allows for these arbitrary and absurd restraining orders.
Even more important that any donation, please help by sharing this story, or sharing your own experiences in the court system. I am available for interview, and seeking guests for my Postmodern Justice podcast. Please forward my contact information to anyone who might be interested.
Alexander Collin Baker on Facebook