Our client, age 29, met another man, age 28, on a dating website for homosexual men. Over seven weeks, our client and the other man exchanged lots of text messages, had two video chats and met three times in person.
One Friday, our client and the other man exchanged texts again and our client asked the other man if he would like to meet to spend time together. The other man, who lived near Santa Monica, told our client no and explained he was just going to go over to his dad’s home to hang out. Our client was taken aback by this response and asked, “so do you want to continue seeing each other in the future?”
The other man said “No, I don’t think so.”
Our client then asked if they could continue just being friends. The other man replied, “No, I don’t think so.”
In response, our client sent a text saying, “Fuck you! If I ever see you, I will kill you and your family. You wasted my time because you were just bored. Fuck you.”
Our client was diagnosed early in life as being on the autistic spectrum, which meant he exhibited socially inappropriate behavior at times. Our client had shared this personal information with the other man, who said he was a psychiatrist and had studied autism quite a bit and had treated many patients with varying degrees of autism.
After our client sent the text, he blocked the other man’s cell phone number and disabled his profile on the dating website. He decided to never see the other man again and did not want to accidentally call him.
For the next six weeks, our client had no contact of any kind from or with the other man. One day, however, a process server knocked on our client’s door in Pasadena and asked our client if he knew the other person, naming his with his first and last name. Our client had previously not even known the other man’s last name. Our client answered, “Yes, I guess” and was handed a Petition for a Civil Restraining Order.
The client read the petition, in which the other man did not provide his address or any identifying information, as is permitted if one fears disclosing such information would endanger that person.
Our client then called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg about the restraining order request. The client described the basic facts and Greg asked if the police ever contacted our client, which our client denied. Greg asked the client if there was any history between he and the other man of hitting, kicking, pushing or any other type of violence between the two. Greg asked if our client had any criminal history and he said no. The client was a software engineer who was concerned that a CLETS entry of such an order would affect his employment.
Greg then explained what he could do and that would include preparing and filing a written opposition to the restraining order, with a declaration from the client explaining how his comment “I’m going to kill you and your family” was really just hyperbole because it was issued after the other man told him he was not interested in seeing him again or even being friends.
The opposition explained that it was unreasonable for the other man to regard the threat as serious because our client did not know where the other man lived, did not even know his last name, had no history of violence and the other man, being a mental health professional himself, should have recognized the threat as an autistic man’s inappropriate spontaneous utterance. Considered under all these surrounding circumstances, the threat was not credible and did not merit serious consideration.
Moreover, the other man did not file a request for a restraining order for six weeks, which suggested even he did not find it too serious.
Greg then filed the opposition at the Santa Monica Courthouse and attended the restraining order hearing with the client. The other man did appear and Greg served him with a copy of the opposition, which included a request for attorney fees of $2,500 for our client having to defend against an unmerited restraining order request.
The judge assigned to the case read the opposition and told the parties and Greg, “Ninety-nine percent of the judges who handle requests for restraining orders would enter the restraining order simply based on the threat, ‘I’m going to kill you,’ but I am not going to do so.”
She then explained that she understand and appreciated the delay in the other man seeking the restraining order, the fact that the police never contacted our client even if the other man reported this incident to the police (the other man claimed he did so), the fact that our client did not know the other man’s last name or address, the fact that our client was autistic and the fact that the “threat” was not directing the other man to do or not do anything.
The judge therefore denied the restraining order request, but said she would not enter the order for six months. The parties would have to come back to court in six months and if there was no contact, then the judge would dismiss the request, which is exactly what then happened.
Our client was happy with this result.
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