Archive for May, 2011

Trusting Our Legislature

May 11, 2011

A big round of applause to our legislators and a small acknowledgement to the Star Bulletin for (retrospectively) covering important changes (and no-changes) to our laws. The May 8, 2011 article Abercrombie obstructed, Lawmakers rejected the governor’s tax proposals by Derrick DePledge, includes a well-organized synopsis of laws passed and failed in Hawaii’s recent legislative session.

While the article focused on major wins and misses, like approved budget balancing excise taxes and the failed pension taxes, the B4 local Sunday supplement listed all measures presented before the legislature in easy to follow categories such as government, business/taxes and education. While hindsight is 20-20, this list of bills–passed and failed–is very instructive of what goes on, mostly, behind doors that are not accessible to you or me.

In this article, I want to highlight three bills that are particularly important to me. Primarily, I want to highlight these bills because it shows that certain people will stop at nothing to turn our Democracy into a police state.

Online Harassment

Under the header Consumer Protection/Labor one of the failed measures includes a proposal to change our laws to make online harassment a misdemeanor. Often these laws are aimed at online bullying, such as cyber-bullying or on-line cat-fights between high-school acquaintances, our current law (HRS §711-1106, et. seq.) conforms with a number of other states that have updated their laws to deal with electronic communications. According to an article posted by KITV News, the New Law Makes Texts, Online Harassment Illegal violators face one year in prison and / or a $2,000 fine.

The new proposal (HB 618) would have made it a misdemeanor to use–GET THIS–another person’s name online without permission and with the intent to harm. The concept of “intent to harm” is not described and could be perceived in any way the offended person conceives. To compound the injury, it would have made repeat offenses a third-degree felony.

So, for example, when my ex-wife was championing cyber harassment laws that would outlaw Google searches (see Penumbrook’s post on 2/14/2009), simply writing about a bad-actor, a child abuser, a parental alienator, and generally not a good person, could have been twisted to make me, a father declaring his innocence, into a bad person.

Wait… We only need to look at the 2/22/11 testimony in favor of this legislation, to discover where this was headed. Not to mention anything that may implicate my ex, but one commenter speaks with authority about being the target of stalkers–“both in movies and in real-life.” Stalking movies are not high on my list of must-see entertainment and, personally, I would question the motive of anyone for whom they are.

I understand that kids have a tough time these days, but an angry ex can do a lot more damage to our economy than the hormonal infused excess of youth. Hawaii would have been very close to creating, with this proposed law, a police state.

Expanding Ex-Parte TROs

Under the topic of LAW ENFORCEMENT, a proposal to expand the immediacy of Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) failed. SB 1054 would have expanded Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 586-4, to allow an ex-parte TRO for a person who is not physically present in the State of Hawaii. The provision would have allowed for a TRO when the applicant applied by telephone, radio or other means of electronic communication.

In addition, this proposal would have allowed that “A temporary restraining order may be issued when the applicant is not physically present if the court is satisfied that exigent circumstances exist sufficient to excuse the failure of the applicant to appear personally and that sufficient grounds for granting the application have been shown.”

Therefore, a deranged mother would have been able to abduct her children to another state or country and file an ex-parte TRO against her husband. I’m experiencing some Deja-vu!

In testimony against this bill, the Public Defender of the State of Hawaii stated, “We have a serious concern that such a procedure, if established, would result in abuse of the TRO process.”

From my personal experience, such a provision would (understating my opinion) not help matters. It is not unexpected that my ex-wife would have filed testimony in support of this bill. What is surprising is that bills like this are not subject to a higher level of unbiased media scrutiny.

Even strident voices, such as Veronika Geronimo, speaking for the HSCDAV cautions that “domestic violence abusers often pose as victims and abuse the TRO process. Abusers have been known to file false claims not because of fear of personal safety, but to exclude the victim from the home or prohibit contact with their children.”

Media Shield Law

Finally, kudos to our State Legislators who saw fit–in a one-newspaper town–to continue the strong Media Shield Laws required for a true democracy to exist. HB 1376 SD1 “extends for two years a law protecting journalists from the compelled disclosure of sources or unpublished information by state legislative, executive or judicial authority.”

Even after years, some people are still hopeful that new information will come to light in several open murder cases. In my Sept, 13, 2009 article I wrote about “Big Island Police Open Murder Investigation,” Jason Adam’s case is still unresolved and his killer is still at large.

Jason still has advocates. I trust that someday his killer will be brought to justice. I have only this website and a naive trust in a mostly hidden legislative process that, someday, could take away my right to free speech. I am innocent. My children are victims.

For more information, visit my web site at LiveBeatDad.com.

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When Fear Guides Law

May 2, 2011

Hawaii is about to give away more of our freedoms and constitutional rights; “Bill to protect victims of abuse nears OK,” Gordon Pang, 05/02/2011, Star Advertiser. By the sheer number of Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) filed, Hawaiians are sending out a loud and clear message that our families are in trouble. What insanity could convince a lawmaker to make it easier to tear families apart?

Family courts are already secret. No outsiders are allowed to measure the justice or corruption inside these walls. A billion-dollar victim’s advocacy industry profits from breaking up families. Now, Hawaii legislators are entertaining HB 968, a bill that will make it easier to serve and implement a TRO. Support for this bill is support for fear on the slippery slope to a police state.

TROs are issued by filing an ex-parte petition to the court–a guilty-decision–without the person charged knowing that a judicial hearing was held. These orders are widely known to be used–and abused:
* In separation proceedings to terminate relationships,
* In child custody matters to prevent children from seeing their parents, and
* In divorce to gain an upper-hand through mostly unsubstantiated allegations of domestic violence.

These orders are already known to increase the incidence of domestic violence. They are a judicial sledgehammer used by one party to address family problems. This bill exacerbates the emotional trauma of a family break-up. The accuser gets a guilt-free ride, no intervention is required to save the family and the accused becomes hunted by law.

TROs circumvent the accused’s right of constitutional due process and the right to know of the crime of which they have been accused. The accused cannot even simply stay away from the accuser but immediately loses all rights automatically taken away by the TROs.

Hawaii laws dictate that a person served with a TRO is guaranteed a speedy trial, usually within three weeks, in order to safeguard his constitutional rights. With the expansion of days from 90 to 180, a temporary order is now semi-permanent. A speedy trial is no longer necessary. It is one step away from no trial at all.

In Hawai’i, a person need only have fear to obtain a TRO. Instructional classes for accusers are held at least once per week in many locations around the Islands. The accuser is coached to say and write words and phrases that will ensure a TRO is granted. The accused is often not even made aware of the law until after a TRO is served. In Hawai’i, TROs are weapons of choice for abusive spouses.

A person who makes an allegation that they are a victim is an “alleged victim.” No court can make a proper determination whether that person is an actual victim without due process. Yet, with a TRO, an angry wife can have her husband and her children’s father jailed for being in his own home. Before he knows what hit him, he will be guilty of a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to a year in jail.

Police officer’s themselves are most at risk. Under a TRO, the accused can be put into jail for owning a gun. For these husbands and fathers–found guilty and jailed without due process–their careers are over and their problems have just begun.

By allowing fear to guide our law, our lawmakers are ready to toughen laws that are used to destroy families. They are about to escalate factors that increase violence among family members. They are about to increase costs for our police and judiciary when every other legislative decision is based on the fiscal austerity of our time. When fear guides law, we all pay.

Solutions to the problem could be based on keeping families together. Require spouses and intimate partners to obtain mediation and / or therapy before obtaining a TRO. Send all parties to anger-management therapy and the Kids First program before permitting a TRO. Require clear and convincing evidence–not just fear–for an individual to obtain an ex-parte TRO. Open family court to the public to measure the effect of policy against families and reveal the true cost to our state.

We can succumb to fear and make our laws more punitive. We will destroy more lives and leave more children without the love and nurturing care a family can provide. OR, we can get to the root of the problem reducing the need for TROs with family education and reconciliation. My hope is that our legislators will begin fixing the broken system we have.