David Pisarra

The world went abuzz 25 years ago when the blood soaked walkway made the headlines with the lifeless bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. It was a double homicide that rocked the tony Brentwood neighborhood, and continues to have an impact 25 years later.

The presumed killer was one Orenthal James (OJ) Simpson – the former spouse was, as usual, the prime suspect. OJ Simpson was an icon, a football hero, and a pop culture icon from his Hertz commercials as he ran through the airport, to his appearances in movies he was one of the top celebrities in America at the time.

But celebrity doesn’t guarantee one is emotionally healthy. In fact it oftentimes is a prime indicator of an emotionally imbalanced individual who is constantly striving for more recognition and notoriety. The relentless pursuit of headlines and a perfect public image will often mask an underlying insecurity and low self-esteem.

The betrayal, or perceived betrayal, by a spouse can lead to an outburst of anger and frustration that thankfully most of the time, does not lead to homicide. But it can. A quick scan of the headlines in the local news will show the extent of attacks, homicides and suicides that happen as a result of a relationship gone past its prime.

The Simpson relationship had clearly gone past its prime. The reports of the yelling, abuse and terrorizing by OJ against Nicole were numerous and highly repetitive. We see that same behavior in many of the cases we handle that involve a domestic violence component.

Domestic abuse knows no gender. It has no age limits. There are no socioeconomic groups that are not affected by it. And since the death of Nicole Brown Simpson the courts have grown steadily more aware and responsive to stopping it. Her death was a turning point in our society. We went from domestic abuse and violence being a family matter that required actual physical harm before the courts and police would do anything, to what is now a hair-trigger response to the slightest claim, on the flimsiest of allegations resulting in a domestic violence restraining order that has profound impacts upon individuals and families.

In today’s world of hyper-vigilance to all things victim – it takes little more than a well told tale to suspend a person’s Constitutional right to bear arms. Father’s are routinely excised from their children’s lives by the stroke of a judge’s pen, that was based on a stated “fear of something happening” and a well played tearful plea.

For example, yesterday I was in a courtroom and watched a judge remove a father from his daughter’s life, based on her having a bump on her head. The 2 year old was in her father’s care and according to his testimony, she slipped out of his arms and hit her head on a jar in the crib. The mother took the allegedly “lifeless body but her arms were moving” child to the emergency room for a CT scan. The Doctors looked at the trauma and of course had to report the case as a “possible child abuse /shaken baby” to cover their own tuches’s. A case was opened with Department of Child and Family Services and promptly closed as not child abuse.

At the hearing yesterday the mom asked the dad if it truly was an accident, he testified under oath it was. The judge, in issuing her ruling said, I’m paraphrasing, “I have much experience with small children who can wriggle out of a parent’s arms, and I know how common that is. However the standard for issuing a domestic violence restraining order is preponderance of evidence which is the lowest level possible. So I’m issuing a restraining for three years, dad is not to have any contact with the child. I’m ordering parenting classes for dad.”

That was it. Dad is erased from the child’s life. Now he’ll have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to fight to get his child back in his life. I don’t know what the right answer is in all of this. Maybe the judge made the right call. Maybe not. But I do know that from the little I saw and heard, it doesn’t seem right that a child lost their father over what seemed to be an accident, even when the experts looked at it.

This is the extreme world we live in where we are doing significant damage to good parents who make small mistakes, and that affects the children for their lives.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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