I Call B.S. – GRACELAND’s Restraining Order Realities

*SPOILER ALERT*: Watch Graceland #2.1–2.3 before reading.

Since when is a restraining order the legal remedy for a complicated-but-non-violent child visitation dispute? And since when is it legal—or wise—to invite someone to your home for the sole, and unexpressed, purpose of serving them with a restraining order?
With all due respect, Graceland, I call bulls—.

Cassandra’s (Ciera Payton) attempt to strong-arm Jakes (Brandon Jay McLaren) away from their son was ill-conceived and poorly executed for a number of reasons.

Restraining orders aren’t given out like lollypops at a pediatrician’s office—they have hefty and very specific legal requirements. Jakes has not committed any acts of domestic violence, elder or dependent adult abuse, or workplace violence against Cassandra, so her petition would likely be based on “harassment.” California Code of Civil Procedure § 527.6 allows a person (“Petitioner”) to seek a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or longer-lasting injunction against “harassment,” defined as:

[U]nlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful
course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or
harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct
must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional
distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner.

graceland[Cal. CCP. Code § 527.6(b)(3)]graceland

This Civil Harassment Order typically begins as a TRO, which lasts for 21-25 days maximum. During that time, the person restrained (“Respondent”) must receive notice of the TRO, and both parties must attend a judicial hearing on the matter. Only after that hearing will a judge determine whether the TRO should be extended into an injunction (a.k.a. restraining order), applicable for up to 3 years (and potentially renewable upon subsequent petition). [Read more: California Courts – Civil Harassment (“The Restraining Order Process”)]

Additionally, Cassandra planned this parental coup while making substantially different representations about visitation to Jakes. Since Jakes made significant job-related changes and spent money to rent his own home in reliance on those representations, he could probably sue Cassandra for restitution and/or other damages—i.e., reimbursement of rent/lease money, and (possibly) money for professional setbacks he might have incurred by abruptly changing his ICE assignment.

All of the above is legalese for: (1) Cassandra would have had to show good cause for her petition, and I’m not sure we’ve seen behavior that qualifies; and (2) Cassandra having Jakes served and thrown off her property is far from the end of this story—and, as a federal agent, Jakes would probably know it (thus alleviating the need for his drunken tantrum’s most destructive elements).

I also wonder about the concept of surprising a federal agent with this (or a similar) sort of legal action. Do federal agencies not monitor public records—e.g., arrests, court orders—for their agents’ names? Seems like the agencies would have an interest in knowing that something was up with one of their agents, especially an undercover agent….

Watch Graceland (@GracelandTV) Wednesdays @ 10|9c on USA Network.

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Featured Image: © 2014 USA Network Media

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Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.