Temporary Restraining Orders - Sacramento

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Temporary Restraining Orders - Sacramento
DO JUDICIAL RESPONSES TO RESTRAINING ORDER REQUESTS
DISCRIMINATE AGAINST MALE VICTIMS OF INTIMATE PARTNER
VIOLENCE? A REPLICATION STUDY
Lynne Marie Wolcott
B.A., California State University, Sacramento, 2009
THESIS
Submitted in partial satisfaction of
the requirements for the degree of
MASTER OF ARTS
in
SOCIOLOGY
at
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, SACRAMENTO
FALL
2011
DO JUDICIAL RESPONSES TO RESTRAINING ORDER REQUESTS
DISCRIMINATE AGAINST MALE VICTIMS OF INTIMATE PARTNER
VIOLENCE? A REPLICATION STUDY
A Thesis
by
Lynne Marie Wolcott
Approved by:
__________________________________, Committee Chair
Bohsiu Wu, Ph.D.
__________________________________, Second Reader
Rodney Kingsnorth, D. Criminology
____________________________
Date
ii
Student: Lynne Wolcott
I certify that this student has met the requirements for format contained in the University
format manual, and that this thesis is suitable for shelving in the Library and credit is to
be awarded for the thesis.
__________________________, Graduate Coordinator
Amy Liu, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
iii
___________________
Date
Abstract
of
DO JUDICIAL RESPONSES TO RESTRAINING ORDER REQUESTS
DISCRIMINATE AGAINST MALE VICTIMS OF INTIMATE PARTNER
VIOLENCE? A REPLICATION STUDY
by
Lynne Marie Wolcott
In 2009, Muller et al. examined the process of obtaining temporary and permanent
restraining orders in Sacramento County, California. The findings of the study indicate a
gender difference in relation to the granting of both temporary and permanent orders,
with male plaintiffs obtaining both orders less often then female plaintiffs. As a result, the
authors conclude that judicial discrimination exists against male victims of intimate
partner violence. However, multiple issues can be observed throughout the article.
Because these issues have the potential to affect the results, it is important to revise the
original methods and create a replication study. The data for the following replication
was collected at the Sacramento Family Court in Sacramento, California, and aims to
examine the process of obtaining a temporary and permanent restraining orders.
However, the study bases its findings on improved methods that include a larger sample
with an equal number of male and female plaintiffs and an extensive group of control
variables. In addition to the quantitative data, the current study incorporates qualitative
data. These qualitative data, including judicial comments, offer important insight
regarding the judicial decision-making process. The replication reveals a smaller gender
difference in obtaining a temporary restraining order than the original study, with the
qualitative data suggesting an alternative explanation for this observed disparity. No
statistically significant gender difference in the issuance of permanent orders is noted.
The replication does not therefore support the original study’s claim of judicial
discrimination in the issuance of these orders.
_______________________, Committee Chair
Bohsiu Wu, Ph.D.
_______________________
Date
iv
DEDICATION
I dedicate this study to my mother, Sheila Wolcott, and my father, Michael Wolcott, for it
is due to their endless encouragement and support that this accomplishment is possible.
v
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to thank both Professor Rodney Kingsnorth and Professor Bohsiu Wu
for the opportunity to take part in this research. From this experience I have further
broadened my skills as a sociological researcher as well my personal perspective on
multiple sociological issues. The time spent collecting the data, performing the analysis,
and examining the results has been enjoyable due to the advice and encouragement
offered by both of you along the way. I appreciate all of the quick responses to last
minute questions and concerns and your willingness to assist with any and all challenges
that emerged along the way. Most importantly, I admire your everlasting dedication to
making sure this study reached its highest potential.
In addition, I would like to thank the Sacramento Family Court, specifically,
Colleen McDonagh, for welcoming this research project. The friendly and helpful staff
played a large role in making the data accessible and helping maintain organization.
Without the court’s willingness to assist in the facilitation of the data collection process,
the completion of this study would not have been possible.
Finally, I would like to thank Philip Galang from the Student Technology Center
for going out of his way to help format this document. Your assistance made the
overwhelming process of formatting manageable.
vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
Dedication ........................................................................................................................... v
Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................ vi
List of Tables ..................................................................................................................... ix
Chapter
1. INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................... 1
2. LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................... 3
Gender Differences Related to Intimate Partner Violence ..................................... 3
Gender Symmetry and Gender Asymmetry ............................................................ 5
Gender Disparities and the Court System ............................................................. 11
Appropriateness of a Mixed-Methods Data Collection and Analysis Approach .. 14
3. CRITIQUE OF THE MULLER ET AL. STUDY ........................................................ 18
Sample................................................................................................................... 18
Data Collection ..................................................................................................... 19
Table Display and Information ............................................................................. 21
Misleading Assumptions and Conclusions ........................................................... 22
Sole Reliance on Quantitative Data ...................................................................... 24
Written Document ................................................................................................. 24
4. METHODS ................................................................................................................... 26
Data Collection ..................................................................................................... 26
Data Analysis ........................................................................................................ 28
5. DATA ANALYSIS ....................................................................................................... 29
Descriptive Statistics ............................................................................................. 29
Temporary Restraining Orders ............................................................................. 31
Hearing Dates........................................................................................................ 33
Permanent Restraining Orders .............................................................................. 34
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6. DISCUSSION ............................................................................................................... 36
Hearing Dates........................................................................................................ 37
Permanent Restraining Orders .............................................................................. 37
7. CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH .......................................................... 39
Appendix A Categories and Codes ................................................................................... 42
Appendix B Race/Ethnic Population of Sacramento County by Gender ......................... 44
References ......................................................................................................................... 45
viii
LIST OF TABLES
Page
Table 1. Descriptive Statistics........................................................................................... 30
Table 2. Logistic Regression Analysis of Likelihood of Receiving a Temporary
Restraining Order ................................................................................................ 32
Table 3. Comparison of Adjudication Outcomes for the Original and Replication
Studies ................................................................................................................. 35
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1
Chapter 1
INTRODUCTION
The following research is a replication study of Henry J. Muller, Sarah L.
Desmarais, and John M. Hamel’s report entitled, “Do Judicial Responses to Restraining
Order Requests Discriminate Against Male Victims of Violence?” The decision to
conduct a replication study is based on the previous study’s sample size, method of data
collection, and theoretical perspective. As a result, the prior study suggests that from their
findings they are able to conclude that male victims of IPV are discriminated against by
the judicial system. However, in addition to its skewed sample size and minimal method
of data collection, the study fails to acknowledge and consider other gender related and
unrelated factors that may play a key role in determining whether or not the petitioner is
granted a temporary restraining order (TRO). Therefore, the replication aims to (1)
include a broader, more representative sample, (2) utilize a more comprehensive method
of data collection (mixed-methods) to account for other possible factors that may affect
TRO granting decisions, and (3) apply a different theoretical perspective to evaluate the
process of granting temporary restraining orders by a Sacramento court.
Although intimate partner violence (IPV) may be defined in numerous ways, for
the sake of this study, intimate partner violence is defined as any form of verbal,
emotional, physical, or sexual abuse that is inflicted on a person by whom he or she is
dating or dated, married to or was married to, or having sexual relations with or had
sexual relations with. This study will only be examining individuals who are currently
involved or were previously involved in heterosexual relationships. This decision was
2
made based on the sample of the study being replicated, which only included
heterosexually involved partners or prior partners.
To begin, a review will be conducted on the previous research to analyze gender
differences related to intimate partner violence, examine the argument between gender
symmetry and gender asymmetry, assess gender disparities in the court system, and
support a mixed-methods approach as the most appropriate method of data collection and
analysis for this topic.
3
Chapter 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
Gender Differences Related to Intimate Partner Violence
IPV is a prevalent issue in today’s society. Its effects on its victims can range
from control, trust, and confidence issues of verbal and emotional abuse to the
traumatizing and possibly fatal impact of sexual and physical abuse. “The consequences
of domestic violence are substantial – in terms of physical injury, psychological and
emotional distress, suicide, and substance abuse among victims” (Umberson et al. 1998:
442). No matter what effect is produced however, it has the ability to alter a person’s
perceptions, happiness, relationships, and health for the rest of his or her life. Because the
effects of IPV bear such devastating potential, many studies have been conducted which
attempt to reach a better understanding of the various causes of intimate violence and the
gender disparities related to the roles of perpetrator and victim. Therefore, the following
examines a sample of findings on both male and female roles in IPV.
Although it is not being argued that women are always victims of IPV and never
perpetrators, previous studies tend to show that women are overwhelmingly more often
victims of IPV. While reviewing prior research on violence against women, Johnson
(1995) found that, “…Gaquin (1978) reported that National Crime Survey Data (United
States) for the period of 1973-75 indicate that 97% of assaults on adults in the family
were assaults on wives” (285). In a more recent report, Thomas et al. (2008) conducted a
study utilizing focus groups that was aimed at better understanding the link between IPV
and its effects on female victims’ health. The sample was comprised of forty women. Of
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the forty women, thirty-eight reported that being exposed to physical or sexual abuse by
their male partner during the last 12 months. More specifically, the findings of the study
revealed the following:
“Nine women reported that their partner had used a knife on them; five said that a
gun had been used on them; and seven had been burnt on purpose by a partner in
the past year. More than have of the women (55%) reported experiencing sexual
abuse by a partner during the past year. A majority of the women (93%) reported
experiencing psychological or emotional abuse in their lives…” (Thomas et al.
2008: 1259).
“In everyday speech and even in most social science discourse, ‘domestic
violence’ is about men beating women” (Johnson 2000: 948). In multiple ways Johnson’s
statement is true. By examining the various results mentioned above and taking into
consideration their generational scope, many studies support the conclusion that women
are more often victims of IPV whereas men comprise a majority of the perpetrators. In
addition, arguably in many cases and to most people, intimate partner violence is thought
of as an occurrence perpetrated largely by men. Some however may question this
statement (Migliaccio 2002; Straus 2006). Is it true statistically? Has it been proven by
empirical evidence? Or, have our perceptions been manipulated by skewed research and
inaccurate findings? These questions rest at the heart of the ongoing heated debate
between gender symmetry and gender asymmetry.
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Gender Symmetry and Gender Asymmetry
In Criminology and Sociology specifically, gender is regarded as a highly
important characteristic that, some argue, has the potential to alter how people behave
and react. To some, gender plays a bigger role in situations, such as intimate assault, than
others may believe. To others, false and bias data misrepresent the role of gender in
instances including intimate partner violence. The latter represents the belief upheld by
those in support of gender symmetry.
In regards to IPV, gender symmetry argues that perpetration rates of both men and
women are, if not more than, relatively equal. More specifically, concerning the topics of
domestic violence and IPV, Murray A. Straus is currently one of the most prominent
researchers utilizing a gender symmetric framework. “…In the majority of couples where
one partner is violent, both partners have committed one or more assaults” (Straus and
Ramirez 2007: 287). Thus, Straus argues that when it comes to violence against intimate
partners, women perpetrate violence as often as their male partners. As additional support
to their statement, in the findings of a study regarding prevalence and severity of IPV
Straus and Ramirez (2007) state, “The results indicate that women and men have similar
prevalence rates for both any and sever[e] assaults, and for chronicity of minor assaults”
(287).
In addition to Straus’ studies on IPV relevant to married couples, he has also
researched dating couples. Through a review of other research on the topic of gender
symmetry including his own studies, Straus (2006) is able to conclude that, “…There are
more than 150 studies showing equal or higher rates of assault by women, and this now
6
includes results showing approximately equal rates of assault against dating partners by
university students at 68 universities in 32 countries” (1086).
Although Straus’ general results of various reports reveal the possibility of gender
symmetry in relation to IPV, one finding of his exposes major contradiction. “An
important exception to the pattern of gender symmetry was that, among the subgroup of
respondents who committed one or more acts of severe violence, men in all four samples
did it more often than women” (Straus and Ramirez 2007: 287). This result bluntly
counters Straus’ gender symmetric stance. Although he is arguing that women are in
some cases violent, he is concluding that when it comes to the commitment of multiple,
severe violent acts, men perpetrate more than women “in all samples.” Findings like
these are important and are one example of what may make some people question the
validity of gender symmetry. It is on these grounds, evidence that shows men’s
perpetration to be greater and more frequent than women’s, that the argument of gender
asymmetry is built upon.
As its name foreshadows, gender asymmetry is just the opposite of gender
symmetry. Theorists and researchers of IPV that uphold the concept of gender asymmetry
agree with its premise that there is a gender-gap in terms of perpetrators and victims.
These researchers have tested the stereotype of male violence and have produced rather
convincing results. For various reasons, supporters of gender asymmetry argue that men
commit more violent assaults on their female partners than the reverse. One reason that
gender asymmetry is considered to bear truth is the argument that men are faced with
pressures regarding their masculinity.
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It is difficult to argue that from a very young age society expects men to act a
certain way and live up to a certain masculine caliber. Through their research on
domestic violence as a possible result of emotions, Umberson et al. (2003) explain the
role of masculinity by stating that, “…Violence is a means by which men can
demonstrate a masculine identity” (234). They further explain the origins of this pressure
by noting that there is “…A cultural image of masculinity in emotional stoicism – men in
our society are expected to hide their feelings and emotions regardless of physical or
emotional pain: A ‘strong’ man never cries” (Umberson et al. 2003: 234). They continue
by pointing out that, “Women are more likely than men to exhibit ‘feminine’ distress
styles that involve the expression of emotion… whereas men are more likely to exhibit
‘masculine’ distress styles that involve behavioral expression” (Umberson et al. 2003:
234). Thus, by suppressing what may be considered “feminine emotions,” men are able
to uphold a masculine front. Furthermore, Umberson et al. discuss the possibility that
male violence against female partners may be due to some men’s unawareness or
disregard for their emotions. “…Violence is more likely among men who experience a
disconnect between their personal circumstances and their emotions” (Umberson et al.
2003: 244). As Umberson continues, she argues that the failure to acknowledge emotion
by men may result in negative consequences. “[Violent men] are also likely to view acts
as expressions of extreme and cumulative emotional upset. Violence occurs when
[violent men] lose control of their emotions, when their emotions begin to control them”
(Umberson 2003: 244).
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In addition to men’s attempts to maintain a masculine identity, gender asymmetric
ideology and feminist scholars consider male violence to be a method of obtaining and
maintaining control over women in both the household and society. “…Partner violence
is primarily a problem of men using violence to maintain control over ‘their women,’ a
control to which they feel they are entitled and is supported by a patriarchal culture”
(Johnson 2000: 949). When considering male dominance in relationships and family,
Umberson et al. (1998) discuss the notion that, “Personal control in the domain of family
and gender relations may be the more critical issue for men who become violent” (450).
In addition, in his report on common couple violence, Johnson (1995) states, “… I am
convinced that this pattern of violence is rooted in basically patriarchal ideas of male
ownership of their female partners” (284). More generally, when considering men’s
masculine role in society, Anderson (1997) explains that, “…Feminist researchers
contend that violence is part of a system of coercive controls through which men
maintain societal dominance over women” (655).
Another argument regarding gender asymmetry involves the effects of IPV rather
than the causes. As discussed earlier, the consequences of IPV can have detrimental
effects. Johnson (2000) contends that, “…The literature confirms that [intimate terrorism]
and perhaps other forms of partner violence against women have negative effects in terms
of injuries and longer-term physical and psychological health” (957). Also, Saunders
(2002) concludes, “…The physical and psychological consequences of victimization are
consistently more severe for women” (1424). In one report discussing mutual violence,
Anderson (2002) finds its consequences to be gender asymmetric and states, “Although
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men and women report similar rates of intimate partner violence perpetration and
victimization, the negative consequences of intimate partner violence are more likely to
be experienced by women” (861).
As noted earlier, it is not to be mistaken or confused that the agenda of this review
is to prove that women are only victims of IPV and men are only perpetrators. In fact,
many cases exist that involve female violence. However, gender asymmetry suggests that
there is an explanation for this that gender symmetry overlooks: the concept of context.
Context is an important factor to consider when evaluating the causes of IPV. Allen et al.
(2009) agree on the importance by reporting the following:
“Results indicate that although comparable numbers of men and women
perpetrate and are victimized in their relationships with intimate partners, the path
models suggest that women’s violence tends to be in reaction to male violence,
whereas men tend to initiate violence and then their partners respond with
violence” (1816).
Thus, it is crucial to consider the fact that some, if not much, of female perpetrated IPV
occurs in response to the violence committed by their male partner. Allen et al. (2009)
further note that their findings, “…Suggest that women’s violence in this sample appears
to be primarily a reaction to male violence against them” (1829). In addition, this
argument is supported by Saunders (2002) when he highlights that, “Many studies that
show equal rates of violence by female and male partners fail to account for the important
factors such as the use of defensive violence and the traumatic consequences of violence”
(1441). He continues by stating, “Women tend to use violence in self-defense more than
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men, especially for the most severe types of violence” (Saunders 2002: 1441). These
results are important to keep in mind when considering the argument of gender symmetry
and gender asymmetry in relation to IPV for they contest Strauss’s findings, stated earlier
in this section, that, in certain instances, report higher rates of IPV perpetrated by women
than men.
Given the various results of gender asymmetry, it is worth discussing the validity
of gender symmetry. Therefore, the question is asked, if the findings of gender
asymmetric studies are accurate, what is to be said about the conclusions that have been
drawn from the gender symmetry perspective? The two main arguments in relation to the
evidence of gender symmetry revolve around (1) the perspective’s failure to take into
consideration the context of violence and (2) its flawed methods of data collection. “The
claim that women initiate and carry out assaults against their partners as often as men is
inaccurate because it is based on speculation or inadequate research…” (Saunders 2002:
1441). When discussing the use of large-scale survey instruments by gender symmetric
researchers, Anderson (1997) points out, “[Feminist scholars] argue that [large-scale
surveys] ignore the context in which violence occurs and thus the issues of gender and
power” (656). Moreover, Johnson specifically addresses Straus’ “Representative Sample
Fallacy” in which Straus contends that shelters for IPV victims are not reliable in terms
of representation. While discussing Straus’ idea Johnson (1995) argues:
“…His discussion of the ‘representative sample fallacy’ fell into the trap of
assuming not only that the shelter samples are not representative, but that a
random sample is… Even the best designed survey projects are unable to gather
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information from the total target sample, and non-respondents may differ in
important ways from respondents. For example, men who systematically terrorize
their wives would hardly be likely to agree to participate in such a survey, and the
women whom they beat would probably be terrified at the possibility that their
husband might find out that they had answered such questions” (289).
As was shown from the studies examined above, the appropriate extent to which
gender should be examined and evaluated in regards to criminal acts differs among
scholars. Many would argue that the differences between men and women are what need
to be examined when considering types of crime such as intimate partner violence. Others
may argue that gender does not play a role at all. Finally, some would attest that the
criminal justice system, through leniency, chivalry, and paternalism, creates skewed
reports regarding gender, thus leaving society with an inaccurate image of the role of
gender in crime.
Gender Disparities and the Court System
When considering whether or not there is a correlation between sentencing and
gender, there is a large belief that women are treated more leniently than men. Two
prominent theories that address the subject of leniency toward women in the justice
system are (1) the chivalry hypothesis and (2) paternalism. The chivalry hypothesis,
“Proposes that predominantly male police, prosecutors, and judges have a traditional,
chivalrous attitude toward women and extend this attitude even to women offenders;
therefore, they treat them with more leniency than men” (Akers and Sellers 2009: 269).
Just like the meaning of the word, this hypothesis proposes that men are treating women
12
kindly through leniency. Given this assumption, it seems obvious and is understandable
that many feminists disregard this hypothesis.
Instead of embracing the chivalry hypothesis, leniency is regarded as a result of
paternalism. Paternalism entails that, “Rather than viewing women as objects of
admiration and respect… decision makers take a paternalistic stance toward women,
viewing them as too weak and passive to withstand or even learn from punishment…”
(Akers and Sellers 2009: 269). While examining other studies Daly (1989) states that,
“Studies show that when victim-offender relations involve family members or intimates,
the police, court officials, and juries do not consider such offenses ‘real crime’” (29).
Other reports suggest that the focus of paternalism does not center on the protection of
women but on the protection of the institution of family. In attempts to analyze familybased justice in the court system, Daly (1987) conducted thirty-five interviews with
justice officials and found that, “The interviews show that although a form of paternalism
exists in the court, it does not center on the protection of women. Rather, its ideological
emphasis is on protecting the social institution of the family…” (282). She notes that,
“These results challenge the commonly held notion that the court protects women (female
paternalism), and reveal instead that the real object of court protection is families
(familial paternalism)” (Daly 1987: 282).
Just as it is necessary to discuss paternalism, it is as important to evaluate the
court officials making the decisions. Judges are expected to leave any biases at the door
and treat everyone equal. In contrast, paternalism suggests that this is not exactly what
occurs. Others, however, argue that with some minor exceptions, overall, judges do have
13
good intentions and embrace their ethical obligations. First, as noted by Goldman (1982),
“Certain selection procedures are suggested for maximizing the recruitment of good
judges” (112). Although it does not prevent bias and corrupt decisions from occurring, it
is worth mentioning that the selection process for judges is strict and involves heavy
concentration on the importance of “justice” in regards to ethical, fair decisions made in
conjunction with the law, not personal feelings or agendas. In his examination of judicial
ethics, Thoron (1966) finds:
“…The general overall level of judicial ethical performance is relatively high.
Most judges are honest and honorable. Where dissatisfaction is apparent, it is far
more frequently directed at judicial competence than at judicial integrity and
ethics” (36).
Thoron (1966) concludes by suggesting, “…Our judges have shown themselves to be on
the whole thoroughly honest and honorable individuals, fully deserving of the public
confidence in which most courts and most judges are generally held” (37). More
specifically, in their research discussing the influence of suspect gender on judicial
decision-making, Kingsnorth and MacIntosh (2007) reveal the lack of leniency on female
offenders when it comes to IPV and offense severity by reporting that for female
offenders, “A prior domestic violence conviction and on-probation status both reduce the
likelihood of dismissal of charges, as does use of a weapon and the number of charges”
(477).
Finally, some researchers also suggest that for the most part there are no gender
disparities in the court system. Rather, the gender differences that do occur are actually
14
appropriately based on the offense and the offender’s record. When discussing gender
differences regarding charge reduction, Bishop and Frazier (1984) argue that, “These
differences may accurately reflect real differences in the incidence and seriousness of the
offenses committed by men and women… (385). Furthermore, they insist that:
“Using a variety of measures of charge reduction and taking into account the
possibility of differential effects by offense type, we could find no evidence that
women are treated either more leniently or more harshly than men in behind-thescenes plea negotiations” (Bishop and Frazier 1984: 394).
Ultimately, through the above review of prior work on IPV, gender symmetry and
gender asymmetry, and gender differences in regard to the criminal justice system, it is
clear that the consideration of gender and the roles it plays, or does not play, is crucial to
understanding, evaluating, and analyzing the causes of IPV, the gender differences that
occur, other aspects that may affect causes and outcomes, and how each of these aspects
influence judicial decision making.
Appropriateness of a Mixed-Methods Data Collection and Analysis Approach
When considering the issue of IPV and granting TRO’s, there are different
methods of data collection that one can use in order to research this topic. Because a
common approach would be to analyze court documents, quantitative methods are often
used. Although IPV data collection and analysis can rely solely on quantitative data, it is
argued that incorporating a qualitative approach would only be beneficial. “The content
and context of an offense, its perceived seriousness for victims and court officials, and
the relations of a defendant’s prior record to the current offense are not well captured by
15
quantification.” (Daly 1994: 7) In order to strengthen and enrich the quality and content
of collected data, the use of mixed-methods would be the most appropriate approach to
collect and analyze IPV data in relation to judicial decision making on granting TRO’s.
The context of IPV differs from case to case as do judicial decisions. When a
judge makes a decision, he or she looks at many different variables such as prior record
and offense severity. When quantitative data on court decisions reveal a gender disparity,
the data do not necessarily explain the difference or how it came to exist. Although a
researcher may have specific quantitative findings that show a significant gender
difference, how to interpret the results in terms of how and why the difference exists is
unclear and may result in the researcher reporting flawed conclusions. For example, it
may be concluded that the judge is discriminating against one particular gender and
favoring the other. Although it is not possible to conclude this by quantification only, this
conclusion may, in turn, influence policy implications. One example of a possible
dangerous outcome of data misinterpretation is discussed by Daly (1994) by explaining,
“If close to half of statistical studies suggest that women receive less severe sentences
than men… then policy makers may try to close the gap by punishing women more
harshly in the name of equality with men” (8). From this realistically possible example,
the importance of looking deeper into the decision-making process is obvious and
qualitative data collection allows for this.
Utilizing a qualitative method entails many advantages. In the case of examining
judicial decision making, the use of qualitative data collection allows the researcher to
gather a more in-depth understanding of why and how a judge came to his or her
16
particular decision. By doing so, the researcher is able to share specific examples of data,
which may be case-specific, with his or her audience. As a result, the findings are
bolstered by the inclusion of particular instances and facts that would otherwise be
ignored or overlooked by quantitative data collection. In his report on recidivism in
relation to IPV, Kingsnorth (2006) discusses the limitations of solely relying on official
documents and not incorporating qualitative data collection such as interviews.
“All authorities agree that reliance on official sources significantly undercounts
recidivism, and I, therefore, make no claims of completeness of data. Victim
interviews were beyond the resources available for this study, and the findings
must therefore be qualified by this limitation” (Kingsnorth 2006: 920).
Studies that have included qualitative data collection and analysis in their research
report various advantages to this approach. In their study involving imprisonment
decisions and gender, Steffensmeier et al. (1993) use a mixed-methods approach and state
that, “Observations and interview responses from selected judges help to clarify the ways
in which judges’ sentencing practices are gender linked” (411). In the same study, by
paying close attention to the influence of prior record and offense severity on judicial
sentencing, Steffensmeier et al. (1993) found that, “…The primary determinants of
judges’ imprisonment decisions are the type or seriousness of the crime committed and
the defendant’s prior record, not the defendant’s gender” (435).
As a result produced by the above review, it can be summarized that the addition
of a qualitative method of data collection would only be beneficial and would be a
positive addition in examining gender disparities regarding court decisions. Therefore,
17
the method of data collection to be utilized for this study is mixed-methods, both
quantitative and qualitative, in order to ensure the most accuracy and empirical validity
on examining whether or not gender disparities exist in relation to judges’ decisions on
granting TRO’s. Furthermore, if such differences do exist, the qualitative data collected
from the court documents will assist in further explaining this occurrence and help avoid
misinterpretation of data.
18
Chapter 3
CRITIQUE OF THE MULLER ET AL. STUDY
In 2009, an article by Henry J. Muller, Sarah L. Desmarais, and John M. Hamel
was published in Journal of Family Violence entitled, “Do Judicial Responses to
Restraining Order Requests Discriminate Against Male Victims of Domestic Violence?”
The following is a critique of this article and intends to justify the reasons for the current
replication by addressing the issues pertaining to the following themes of the original
article: (1) the sample; (2) the data collection process; (3) table display and information;
(4) statements and assumptions within conclusions; (5) sole reliance on quantitative data,
and (6) the written document.
Sample
To begin, an assessment of the sample included in the article by Muller et al. will
be conducted. In the article, the sample of temporary restraining order (TRO) cases is
described as a simple random sample. However, Muller et al. never explain how they
arrived at such a sample. Regarding the sample the article states, “In total, 227 Family
Court TRO records were randomly selected by the Court Records Clerk from the
population of 2002 and 2003 domestic violence TRO petitions” (Muller et al. 2009: 629).
Thus, without the inclusion of a specific description regarding how the sample was
gathered, it is impossible for the reader to know if in fact the sample was random.
Instead, it is left up to the audience to “take the author’s word for it.”
In addition to this lack of information about the sample recruitment process, the
article also failed to define what constitutes an “intimate partnership” in regards to the
19
research. Because the term “intimate partners” can include individuals who are currently
dating as well as individuals who have dated in the past, and the study does not define the
term clearly, it is unclear as to whether or not the research only included current couples
or accounted for those previously intimate as well. However, it is assumed that only
currently intimate partners were included due to the present tense tone of the description
by Muller et al. (2009) when they define intimacy as, “…Including spouses, cohabitants,
persons involved in dating relations, and co-parent” (629).
Data Collection
Expanding on the issues surrounding the sample, the focus is turned to the
problems existing within the data collection process. The study originally collected 227
files from which to gather data. From these 227 cases, 70 were removed for being nonintimate. This could have been solved earlier, and diminishing the sample size could have
been avoided, if the researchers had only selected cases that met the criteria for intimate
partnership during the original case selection process. This could have been done in a
manner that would have still ensured the randomness of the sample as well.
One of the most eye-catching issues involves the sample and the number of male
and female plaintiffs of which it consists. The total number of TRO requests that made up
the sample was 157. The problem occurs in the gender breakdown between plaintiffs. Out
of the 157 cases, 131 cases involved female plaintiffs, leaving only 26 cases involving
male plaintiffs. Muller et al. (2009) justify this uneven sample demographic by stating
that, “This pattern of results is consistent with the distribution of all domestic violence
TRO requests processed by the Sacramento Family court per year (i.e., approximately
20
80% filed against men and 20% against women)” (630). Although this figure does reveal
the interesting fact that females are filing for restraining orders at a rate five times greater
than males, the makeup of the sample is inappropriate for the purpose of the study. As a
result, with such an uneven gender distribution, and such a small sample of male
plaintiffs, the generalizability of any outcome is severely compromised. Because this
study seeks to measure the likelihood of TROs to be granted based on gender, it should
utilize a sample that consists of a relatively even, if not completely even, number of
female and male plaintiffs.
Another flaw in the data collection process focuses on control variables. Although
control variables are extremely important in accounting for other possible explanations
regarding the phenomenon being studied, the original article by Muller et al. does not
incorporate an adequate group of control variables. Rather, they focus on the TRO
outcome (dependent variable), the plaintiff’s sex (the independent variable), and the level
of violence described in the file (one control variable). As a result, the study’s narrow
focus does not allow for other possible explanations to enter the equation. Why it was
decided to not incorporate an exhaustive list of control variables is questionable since
such an action can result in misleading findings and conclusions. Thus, it is suggested
that the inclusion of control variables is not only important for the researcher’s
knowledge, but also for the audience in regards to what conclusions are presented to
them. Examples of variables that are available for inclusion in TRO cases involving
intimate partners are: the plaintiff’s marital status, the perpetrator’s age and race, and
whether or not police assistance was requested at the time of the abuse.
21
Finally, in their analysis of the issuance of permanent orders (as opposed to
temporary orders) the study failed to remove any cases that involved (1) a TRO denial
with “no further action,” (2) a TRO request “dropped” due to the nonappearance of a
petitioner at the PRO hearing, and (3) a TRO “dropped” at the request of the petitioner.
The reason why these cases are important to exclude is clear. In these particular cases, the
court has no other option but dismissal. Thus, these cases do not involve a judicial
decision that can be linked in anyway to the plaintiff’s sex. However, by including them,
the data presented by Muller et al. appear to suggest that more cases were dropped on the
bases of biased judicial decision-making than is actually true.
Table Display and Information
One major flaw present in the article revolves around the display of tables and the
information within them. For instance, it is easy to spot the various times that the
numbers written in the article do not match the numbers in the table that they are
referring to. For instance, in Table 3 it is reported that 42.3% (n=11) of TROs involving
male plaintiffs were denied. However, when discussing this finding in the written
document, Muller et al. report that, “Of the 25 TRO petitions filed by male plaintiffs,
44% (n=11) were denied…” (631).
In addition to the issue of inconsistency with numeric reporting, there are also
flaws within the tables themselves. One example of such flaws is the numbers in the table
not adding up to the reported total with which they correspond. The first example is in
Table 3. It is reported that there is a total of 129 cases involving female plaintiffs.
However, when this figure is analyzed in terms of TRO outcome, 123 were issued and 7
22
were not issued. When combined, these numbers total 130, not the reported 129.
Similarly, the same table reports that overall, 137 cases were issued TROs. However, it
also reports that 123 female plaintiff cases were issued and 15 male plaintiff cases were
issued. When combined, these numbers add up to 138, as opposed to the reported 137.
Moreover, there are also issues within the percentages that are displayed in Table
3. For instance, it is reported that 68.1% of PROs involving female plaintiffs were not
issued and 42.9% were issued. Unfortunately, when added together, the percentage turns
out to be 111%. Furthermore, in Table 4, it is reported that 41.7% of female plaintiff
cases were not dismissed whereas 59.3% were dismissed. When combined, these
percentages come out to 101%. Overall, these mistakes, whether they are results of typing
errors or incorrect calculations, make anyone who notices them question the validity of
the study as a whole.
Misleading Assumptions and Conclusions
The article includes terms being misused which become problematic because they
have the potential to mislead readers. For example, in the abstract, Muller et al. (2009)
state, “…Judges were almost 13 times more likely to grant a TRO requested by a female
plaintiff against her male intimate partner, than a TRO requested by a male plaintiff
against his female partner” (625). The use of the phrase “more likely” is inappropriate as
an interpretation of an odds ratio. In fact, later in the article the researchers explain this
result by noting that it is a result of an odds ratio (631). This powerful statement has no
legitimacy due to the study’s finding that in regards to TROs, female plaintiffs are
granted them 94% of the time and male plaintiffs are granted them 57% of the time.
23
Thus, in comparison to the 94% claim, females are actually 60% more likely to have a
TRO request be granted.
The original study also touches on permanent restraining order (PRO) outcomes.
In doing so Muller et al. (2009) state, “In contrast with prior analyses, there was no
evidence for sex-differentiated granting of PROs, nor was there evidence for court
responses differing as a function of alleged level of violence.” (631). They continue by
mentioning that “it appears” that female plaintiffs are two times more likely to get a PRO
than male plaintiffs. However, the data on which this observation is based is flawed in
that it includes cases in which no judicial decision-making was involved. Moreover,
when these cases are removed, permanent restraining orders are granted in every case but
one. Thus, the analysis reveals no gender difference.
In addition, the lack of control variables adds to the insufficiency of the
conclusion that judges are discriminating against male victims of intimate partner
violence (IPV). As discussed earlier, it is important to account for other possible factors
that can lead to the outcome of female plaintiff’s getting TRO requests granted at a
higher rate than male plaintiffs. Alternative factors that may help explain this
phenomenon include: women writing more detailed descriptions of abuse, women more
likely to be the primary parent/guardian of a young child, and women being more likely
to call the police when experiencing violence. Although secondary and not direct, these
are examples of the available information included in the DV cases involving IPV that
the judges review during the decision making process. Thus, it is suggested that these and
other controls be accounted for.
24
Sole Reliance on Quantitative Data
A major limitation of the original study involves its reliance on quantitative data
only. Although there is a lot of important and revealing data in the files that can be coded
and analyzed quantitatively, by only doing so the study is limited and overlooks a
tremendous resource. This resource exists in the form of the comments made by judges
regarding their decision. In most cases, these comments are included for both TRO
outcomes and PRO outcomes. Essentially, a researcher can do all the quantitative coding
of information that he or she wants and still only come up with possible correlations to
explain the outcome. However, if a researcher were truly concerned with revealing actual
explanations pertaining to judicial decision-making, he or she would not fail to include
the qualitative data provided by the written comments of the judges.
Written Document
Although arguably not as important or damaging as the previously discussed
issues, the article by Muller et al. is comprised of numerous, excessive spelling and
grammatical errors. For example, on page 627 in a statement discussing intimate partner
violence statistics, the word intended to spell “choked” is spelled “chocked.” On page
628 the word “grant” is written when the tense of the sentence indicates that the word
used should be “granted.” On page 629, instead of using the phrase “vice versa,” the
authors wrote “vice versus.” On page 637, the word “matters” is misspelled in the form
of “maters.” In addition to the misspellings and incorrect phrases, there are a couple of
instances in which words are missing. For example, on page 631, in the sentence stating,
“…thus, 156 cases were included the subsequent analysis,” the word “in” should be
25
present before the word “included.” Moreover, on page 635, one portion of a sentence
reads, “…less likely to plead guilty or to be found guilty, and less likely to incarcerated
when found guilty…” The word “be” is missing and should be included before the word
“incarcerated.”
Although spelling and grammar errors may not be as detrimental to the research
as other flaws, they compromise the intelligence of the article. It appears as though the
researchers did not take the time to proof read the written document, thus implying that
either the study was rushed or simply not very important. Furthermore, the article was
published in Journal of Family Violence. Thus, these errors are a reflection of the
publication as well. These are basic editing errors that should have been discovered and
corrected before the article was published.
Ultimately, by reading the original article, it is obvious that the data and analysis
are flawed due to a skewed sample, incomplete descriptions, and misleading statements,
which serve as the foundation for the conclusions. However, with the critique of the
original article complete, it is now possible to discuss the data collection process of the
current study. Overall, this study aims to avoid the issues of the previous research by
correcting for all of the limitations identified in the original study.
26
Chapter 4
METHODS
Because the research conducted by Muller et al. entails multiple errors, the current
replication follows the format of the original study, however, it utilizes additional
strategies and introduces new methods with the intention of improving validity and
reliability. Thus, the replication shares similarities such as the location of data collection
while also incorporating a stratified random sample case selection strategy, an exhaustive
set of control variables, and more accurate and generalizable results.
Data Collection
Like the original project, the data for the replication were collected at the
Sacramento Family Court, specifically located at the William R. Ridgeway Family
Relations Courthouse. The data collection process occurred over a period of four months
from September 2010 to December 2010. In order to collect the information, a group of
three researchers met at the courthouse twice a week during this time period. All of the
data were gathered from domestic violence (DV) court documents.
The DV files were given to the researchers by a court worker. During each
research session, the court worker would provide 125 files for each month, beginning
with April 2009 and ending with March 2010. Once the group was given the files the
next step was to select only the files that met the criteria requirements. The requirements
for selection included domestic violence cases that involved heterosexual intimate
partners. It is important to note that although the original study did not state whether or
not it included previously intimate partners, the replication does include cases involving
27
two people who were intimately involved in the past as well as cases involving currently
intimate partners. In addition, the replication’s decision to only include heterosexual
intimate partners is based on the original study’s sample that excluded homosexual
intimate partners.
In order to ensure that the sample was random, a case selection procedure was
followed. Due to the fact that there was consistently a smaller number of cases involving
male plaintiffs than female plaintiffs, the researchers first began by going through the
entire row of 125 files and selecting all that involved male plaintiffs and met the case
selection criteria. After all of the male plaintiff cases were selected, an equal number of
female plaintiff cases were selected. However, because the group now had an entire row
to choose from, an additional method of selection was implemented in order to help
ensure random selection. This involved alternating the location, or starting point, of
selecting cases within the row of cases during each session. Essentially, the row was split
into three sections. For instance, the first coding session involved the group selecting
cases starting at the beginning of the row. The next session involved the selection process
beginning with the second section. The following session involved the selection
beginning with the third section. Finally, the next selection for the next session began
back again at the beginning of the row.
After the cases had been selected, each session continued by coding the
information in the file that was relevant to the study. Thus, the documents within the file
were used to gather information regarding the independent variable, the dependent
28
variable, and the control variables. The information gathered from the cases was directly
recorded in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and then later transferred into SPSS 18.
The final stage in the data collection process included recording any judicial
comments that offered insight regarding the reasons for either denying or granting a TRO
and/or PRO. In addition, any other relevant and useful notes made by judges were
recorded. Furthermore, qualitative data pertaining to the description of abuse was
recorded if important to the outcome of the case or if it stood out in some way. All
qualitative data was transcribed verbatim in a Microsoft Word document.
Data Analysis
The quantitative data will be analyzed using SPSS. Chi-square tests will be
conducted to identify differences between male and female plaintiffs in case
characteristics. A logistic regression analysis will then be conducted in order to reveal
any relationships between the dependent variables and the independent and control
variables. In addition, for the qualitative data, the verbatim transcriptions will be
analyzed and incorporated in the discussion of the results. They will be used with the
intention to offer further insight, serve as examples and clarification, and help reveal a
better understanding of the TRO and PRO judicial decision-making process.
29
Chapter 5
DATA ANALYSIS
Descriptive Statistics
Table 1 displays the descriptive statistics of the sample variables. The results
indicate a significant difference between male and female plaintiffs who were granted a
temporary restraining order. Here, 90.3% of female plaintiffs were granted temporary
restraining orders whereas 76.8% of male plaintiffs were granted temporary restraining
orders (p<.01). There was no significant gender difference in regard to the granting of a
hearing date or the issuance of a permanent restraining order.
The descriptive statistics in Table 1 reveal sex differences among racial/ethnic
groups. It is important to understand that the reported race/ethnicity is that of the
perpetrator. Thus, in table 1, the race/ethnicity percentage under male plaintiffs refers to
female perpetrators and the percentage under female plaintiffs refers to male perpetrators.
The racial distribution for Hispanic female perpetrators is significantly different than it is
for Hispanic male perpetrators. Hispanic males comprise 25.2% of the male perpetrator
population in the sample whereas Hispanic females comprise 11.7% of the female
perpetration population.
In addition to the findings provided by the analysis seen in Table 1, the
racial/ethnic groups reported in the sample were compared with the racial/ethnic
distribution of Sacramento County according to data from the 2011 Census. The biasing
effect of over-sampling male plaintiffs means that the data in column 3 cannot be
generalized to the total population of CRO plaintiffs and then compared to the overall
30
Table 1. Descriptive Statistics
________________________________________________________________________
Plaintiff Sex
Dependent Variables
TRO Granted
Hearing Granted
PRO Granted
Independent Variables
Abuse (Second)
Abuse (Other)
Co Parent
Living Together (Present)
Living Together (Previously)
Married/Domestic Partners (Present)
Married/Domestic Partners (Previously)
Other Case
Other Restraining Order
Perpetrator Race/Ethnicity
White
Black
Hispanic
Other
Police Responded
Protect Child
Protect Other
Violence Level (More Severe)1
Wants Move Out Order
Wants Personal Order
Wants Stay Away Order
*p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001
Male
%
Female
%
Total
%
76.8
87.7
83.3
90.3**
92.3
93.1
83.5
90.0
88.7
78.6
53.9
35.1
24.7
39.0
30.5
4.5
32.5
7.1
82.6
54.8
43.9
24.5
38.7
28.4
3.2
25.2
7.1
80.6
54.4
39.5
24.6
38.8
29.4
3.9
28.8
7.1
55.2
22.1
11.7
11.0
55.8
44.2
60.4
6.5
36.4
100.0
99.4
38.0
29.7
25.2**
7.1
61.3
57.4*
71.0
14.2*2
34.2
100.0
100.0
46.6
25.9
18.4
9.1
58.6
50.8
65.7
10.4
35.3
100.0
99.7
1
The violence level measures victimization by gender (not perpetration).
Violence level significance = one tail.
representation of racial/ethnic groups in Sacramento County. However, this comparison
2
can be performed for male and female plaintiffs separately. It is important to note that the
sample contains only heterosexual couples. Table 1 indicates that among female
plaintiffs, white males and those described as “other” are under-represented as
31
perpetrators (38% and 7.1% respectively) relative to their representation in the county
population (see Appendix 2). On the other hand, African-American males (29.7%) are
three times more likely than would be expected and Hispanic males are also substantially
overrepresented (25.2%) among those against whom such orders are filed. A different
pattern emerges for male plaintiffs with Hispanic females and those described as “other”
underrepresented among perpetrators (11.7% and 11% respectively). Conversely,
African-American females (22.1%) are more than twice as likely to be named in such
petitions as would be expected from their representation in the county population. White
females (55.2%) are slightly overrepresented.
Another significant finding involves the plaintiff’s request for the restraining
order to protect one or more children. Female plaintiffs requested child protection 57.4%
of the time and male plaintiffs requested this 44.2% of the time.
The severity of the violence level also yields significance. Specifically, for 14.2%
of the female plaintiffs, the most recent abuse described in the plaintiff’s report was at the
“more severe” violence level. In contrast, this was true for 6.5% of the male plaintiffs.
Temporary Restraining Orders
Table 2 displays the logistic regression analysis of the likelihood of receiving a
temporary restraining order. The first variable found to be significant measures the effect
of a delay in filing of more than three days since the most recent abuse described in the
restraining order petition. The analysis reveals that when there is a delay in filing, the
plaintiff’s odds of being granted a temporary restraining order are reduced by 57.4%.
32
Table 2. Logistic Regression Analysis of Likelihood of Receiving a Temporary
Restraining Order
________________________________________________________________________
B
S.E.
Exp(B)
Delay in Filing
-.854
Married/Domestic Partners (Present) -.715
Sex of Plaintiff
.895
1
Violence Level (More Severe)
1.979
-2 Log Likelihood = 237.462
Model Chi-Square = 27.381
Df = 4
Sig = .000
*p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001
.341
.339
.351
1.040
.426*
.489*
2.447*
7.238*
1
The violence level measures victimization by gender (not perpetration).
________________________________________________________________________
A plaintiff’s status as presently married to, or a registered domestic partner with,
the perpetrator, also significantly affects the outcome of his or her request for a
temporary restraining order. Being married, or a registered domestic partner, to the
perpetrator reduces one’s odds of being granted a temporary restraining order by 51.1%.
In addition, the results of the analysis show that the sex of the plaintiff
significantly affects one’s likelihood of receiving a temporary restraining order. The odds
of a female plaintiff being granted a temporary restraining order are 2.447 times as great
as that of a male plaintiff.
Most importantly, the variable representing a “more severe” violence level is
found to be significant. In comparison to the “less severe” violence level, the odds of
receiving a temporary restraining order are more than 7 times greater at the “more
severe” violence level.
33
Although their directions differ, it is important to note that the first three variables
in the equation, delay in filing, married/domestic partners (present), and plaintiff sex, are
approximately equal in strength. Thus, the significance of these three variables is
approximately the same. Moreover, this makes the violence level (more severe), the
strongest of the variables in terms of explaining the granting of temporary restraining
orders.
Hearing Dates
Hearing dates pertain to court hearings regarding the issuance of permanent
restraining orders. As is shown in Table 1, there is no statistically significant difference in
plaintiff sex when it comes to the granting of a hearing. This is important to pay attention
to since the denial of a temporary restraining order does not necessarily result in a denial
of a hearing date. A plaintiff may be denied a temporary restraining order yet still
receive a hearing date for a permanent restraining order.
For this reason, it is critical to examine how many cases involving a denial of a
temporary restraining order were issued a hearing date for a permanent restraining order.
Out of the 51 cases denied a temporary restraining order, 36 involve male plaintiffs and
15 involve female plaintiffs. Of the cases involving male plaintiffs who were denied a
temporary restraining order, 47.2% (17 cases) were granted a hearing. Of the cases
involving female plaintiffs who were denied a temporary restraining order, 20% (3) cases
were granted a hearing.
34
Permanent Restraining Orders
Table 3 compares the adjudication outcomes of the original study to the current
replication. In the original study, 9.6% of cases involve the denial of a temporary
restraining order with no further adjudication of the case compared to 10% in the
replication. Plaintiffs requested case dismissal in 11.5 % of the original study’s sample
and in 6.8% of the replication sample. Cases dropped due to the plaintiff’s nonappearance in court occur in 38.9% of the original sample and in 41.3% of the replication
sample. Where 0.6% of the original study’s sample results in nullity, none involving
nullity exists in the replication sample. Cases involving a previous protective order being
reissued make up 1.9% of the original sample and 2.3% of the replication sample.
Permanent restraining orders were granted in 25.5% of the original study’s cases and in
30.3% of the replication cases. Vacated cases make up 0.6% of the original sample and
3.9% of the replication sample. Outcomes were not available and/or adjudication was still
underway for 11.5% of the original sample and 5.5% of the replication sample.
35
Table 3. Comparison of Adjudication Outcomes for the Original and Replication
Studies
________________________________________________________________________
Adjudication Outcome1
Original
Replication
(N=157)
(N=310)
Denied
9.6 (15)
10.0 (31)
Dismissed
11.5 (18)
6.8 (21)
Dropped
38.9 (61)
41.3 (128)
Nullity
0.6 (1)
0.0 (0)
Reissued
1.9 (3)
2.3 (7)
Restraining Order
25.5 (40)
30.3 (94)
Vacated
0.6 (1)
3.9 (12)
N/A
11.5 (18)
5.5 (17)
1
Denied =TRO denied by judge and no further adjudication of case. Dismissed = plaintiff
requested dismissal. Dropped = request dropped as a result of plaintiff’s failure to appear
in court. Reissued = previously granted protective order was reissued. Nullity =
annulment of marriage. Restraining Order = permanent restraining order issued by the
judge upon adjudication. Vacated = rescinding of previously granted protective order.
N/A = outcome not available or adjudication still underway.
________________________________________________________________________
36
Chapter 6
DISCUSSION
A plaintiff’s status as presently married to, or a registered domestic partner with,
the perpetrator, also significantly affects the outcome of his or her request for a
temporary restraining order. Being married, or a registered domestic partner, to the
perpetrator reduces one’s odds of being granted a temporary restraining order by 51.1%.
In addition, the results of the analysis show that the sex of the plaintiff
significantly affects one’s likelihood of receiving a temporary restraining order. The odds
of a female plaintiff being granted a temporary restraining order are 2.447 times as great
as that of a male plaintiff.
Most importantly, the variable representing a “more severe” violence level is
found to be significant. In comparison to the “less severe” violence level, the odds of
receiving a temporary restraining order are more than 7 times greater at the “more
severe” violence level.
Although their directions differ, it is important to note that the first three variables
in the equation, delay in filing, married/domestic partners (present), and plaintiff sex, are
approximately equal in strength. Thus, the significance of these three variables is
approximately the same. Moreover, this makes the violence level (more severe), the
strongest of the variables in terms of explaining the granting of temporary restraining
orders.
37
Hearing Dates
Hearing dates pertain to court hearings regarding the issuance of permanent
restraining orders. As is shown in Table 1, there is no statistically significant difference in
plaintiff sex when it comes to the granting of a hearing. This is important to pay attention
to since the denial of a temporary restraining order does not necessarily result in a denial
of a hearing date. A plaintiff may be denied a temporary restraining order yet still
receive a hearing date for a permanent restraining order.
For this reason, it is critical to examine how many cases involving a denial of a
temporary restraining order were issued a hearing date for a permanent restraining order.
Out of the 51 cases denied a temporary restraining order, 36 involve male plaintiffs and
15 involve female plaintiffs. Of the cases involving male plaintiffs who were denied a
temporary restraining order, 47.2% (17 cases) were granted a hearing. Of the cases
involving female plaintiffs who were denied a temporary restraining order, 20% (3) cases
were granted a hearing.
Permanent Restraining Orders
Table 3 compares the adjudication outcomes of the original study to the current
replication. In the original study, 9.6% of cases involve the denial of a temporary
restraining order with no further adjudication of the case compared to 10% in the
replication. Plaintiffs requested case dismissal in 11.5 % of the original study’s sample
and in 6.8% of the replication sample. Cases dropped due to the plaintiff’s nonappearance in court occur in 38.9% of the original sample and in 41.3% of the replication
sample. Where 0.6% of the original study’s sample results in nullity, none involving
38
nullity exists in the replication sample. Cases involving a previous protective order being
reissued make up 1.9% of the original sample and 2.3% of the replication sample.
Permanent restraining orders were granted in 25.5% of the original study’s cases and in
30.3% of the replication cases. Vacated cases make up 0.6% of the original sample and
3.9% of the replication sample. Outcomes were not available and/or adjudication was still
underway for 11.5% of the original sample and 5.5% of the replication sample.
39
Chapter 7
CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
When considering the current study, one obvious limitation is that the sample is
derived from only one court. Although this was important in order to maintain the same
format as the original study, the attempt to understand the judicial decision making
process in regard to granted restraining orders in IPV cases could only benefit from more
studies at courts in various counties.
Another suggestion involving the sample must be included. Due to intentions to
replicate the study, the current research did not include restraining order cases involving
homosexual intimate partners. Although the number of these cases was drastically less
than those involving heterosexual intimate partners, it is important to further examine
these cases and their outcomes.
A deeper look at the racial/ethnic representation of both plaintiffs and perpetrators
involved in IPV restraining order cases is also needed. Specifically, further studies
assessing the reason for the observed racial/ethnic disparities are in order. For example, it
would be beneficial to assess whether theses racial/ethnic differences reflect variation in
abuse behavior or reporting behavior. Moreover, this again emphasizes the need for
similar studies in other counties.
The random sample of the current study reflects the practice of Sacramento
County in appointing one judge who carries out the majority of the workload. Although
the current study involves cases overseen by 8 different judges, the sample is comprised
40
of 87.7% of cases that are overseen by one judge in particular. This could result in data
that are sensitive to the overrepresented judge.
In addition, the concern of the current study focused on the denial of temporary
and permanent restraining order cases. By overwhelmingly focusing on the denial of
these cases, the study is unable offer extensive speculation regarding cases that are
granted. Thus, the need arises for a content analysis involving in-depth qualitative
analysis pertaining not only to denied cases, but also cases granted. This would facilitate
an analysis of gender-based differences in the ways male and female plaintiffs
conceptualize and express their victimization and the relationship between these
differences and case outcomes.
Finally, overall studies surrounding juvenile restraining order requests are
lacking. Thus, research in this area is needed and encouraged.
The current study reveals many findings that offer important insight regarding
demographics of individuals involved in restraining order cases, the judicial decisionmaking process in IPV cases, and the issuance of restraining orders. By including both
quantitative and qualitative data, this study is intended to provide an exhaustive
examination of the restraining order process. The goal of the current study was to
replicate, and improve upon, an existing study whose sample, data, and findings appeared
severely limited. Ultimately, the conclusion of the original study, that the gender
difference in regard to the granting of temporary and permanent restraining orders is a
result of judicial discrimination against male plaintiffs, is not supported by the
replication.
41
APPENDICES
42
APPENDIX A
Categories and Codes
Dependent Variables
Temporary Restraining Order Granted
Yes=1
No=0
Hearing Granted
Yes=1
No=0
Permanent Restraining Order Granted
Yes=1
No=0
Delay in Fling (more than 3 days)
Yes=1
No=0
Other Recent Abuse
Yes=1
No=0
Parents Together of Child
Yes=1
No=0
Perpetrator Age
18-63
Plaintiff Has Other Court Case
Yes=1
No=0
Plaintiff Has Other Restraining Order Case
Yes=1
No=0
Female=1
Male=0
Police Responded
Yes=1
No=0
Protection for Child
Yes=1
No=0
Protection for Other
Yes=1
No=0
White
Yes=1
No=0
Black
Yes=1
No=0
Hispanic
Yes=1
No=0
Other
Yes=1
No=0
Independent Variables (Alphabetically)
Plaintiff Sex
Race/Ethnicity
43
Relationship Status
Married/Domestic Partners
Yes=1
No=0
Was Married/Domestic Partners
Yes=1
No=0
Living Together
Yes=1
No=0
Was Living Together
Yes=1
No=0
Yes=1
No=0
Move Out
Yes=1
No=0
Personal
Yes=1
No=0
Stay Away
Yes=1
No=0
Yes=1
No=0
Second Recent Abuse
Type of Order Requested
Violence Level (More Severe)1
1
The violence level measures victimization by gender (not perpetration).
44
APPENDIX B
Race/Ethnic Population of Sacramento County by Gender
Variable
Male
Female
Total
%
%
%
______________________________________________
Race/Ethnicity
White
50.7
52.0
51.4
Black
9.7
9.8
9.8
Hispanic
18.9
17.1
18.0
Other
20.7
21.1
20.8
45
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