Frivolous TRO Issued Against Letterman

by TChris

Individuals who claim to be abuse victims often seek a restraining order against the abuser. In many states, a judge will issue a temporary restraining order on the strength of the alleged victim’s affidavit. The TRO remains in effect until a hearing is held to determine whether to enter a lengthier injunction prohibiting contact with the victim.

Too many judges rubber stamp the initial request for a TRO without taking care to decide whether the allegations warrant relief. That seems to be what happened when a Santa Fe woman obtained a TRO against David Letterman. The woman claimed that Letterman “forced her to go bankrupt and caused her ‘mental cruelty’ and ‘sleep deprivation’ since May 1994.” She asked the court to order Letterman to “stay at least 3 yards away and not ‘think of me, and release me from his mental harassment and hammering.’”

Nestler's application for a restraining order was accompanied by a six-page typed letter in which she said Letterman used code words, gestures and "eye expressions" to convey his desires for her.

She wrote that she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after his "Late Show" began in 1993, and that he responded in code words and gestures, asking her to come East.

She said he asked her to be his wife during a televised "teaser" for his show by saying, "Marry me, Oprah." Her letter said Oprah was the first of many code names for her and that the coded vocabulary increased and changed with time.

Letterman’s lawyers have asked the court to quash the TRO, and they will no doubt prevail. But the court’s decision to issue a TRO is shocking. The unfortunate petitioner would plainly benefit from mental health treatment, and that fact should have been obvious to any judge who read her submission. Why should Letterman (or, more importantly, a less affluent individual in Letterman’s position) be required to defend himself from a complaint that clearly doesn’t meet the legal standard for the requested relief?

The notion that it’s fine to issue a temporary restraining order to anyone who wants one, because some other court will deal with the merits later, is irresponsible. Perhaps judges will learn from this incident that it’s worthwhile to read TRO applications before granting a TRO.

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    Re: Frivolous TRO Issued Against Letterman (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 02:39:55 PM EST
    I had a judge grant an emergency order against me in Family Court when my ex falsely claimed that I had abandoned my parenting time with the kids. The basis of the emergency order was the claim that I had gotten back in touch with the family after months away and that the kids (4 and 6) at the time thought I had died! None of the claims were true. Alameda County's Family Court Services had everyone's phone number and address, and had the judge asked them, they could have done five minutes of due diligence in picking up the phone and calling me. Three months later, the order was lifted in court, but two years later and I am still trying to get back to the terms of my parenting time as it was then. And my kids still want to know where I was, not during the time I abandoned them, for I had not, but for the three months the court decided the emergency order needed to be in effect. All of this cost me thousands of dollars, not to mention anguish and loss. What is the corrective feedback for the court? For the judge? There appears to be little actual incentive at times for judges or the court to get the right answer quickly? There appears to be more of an incentive for the judge to clear his docket.

    Re: Frivolous TRO Issued Against Letterman (none / 0) (#2)
    by Quaker in a Basement on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 03:26:19 PM EST
    Wow. The woman who sought the restraining order is clearly delusional. I mean how could she possibly think he was using "Oprah" as a code name to talk about her? It's completely clear he was talking about me!

    Re: Frivolous TRO Issued Against Letterman (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 03:42:11 PM EST
    Look, Oprah spelled backwards is Harpo, as in Harpo Marx & Harpo Marx once lived next to my second cousin in Santa Monica & Monica is the name of the former president's girlfriend . . . & so on. I am not a clinician, but I know enough about Schizophrenia to know the woman is displaying classic symptoms. Courts, as I have recently learned during the probate process of my late father's estate, love procedure more than they love truth, justice & the American way. The love process more than they love efficiency, probity or common sense.

    Re: Frivolous TRO Issued Against Letterman (none / 0) (#4)
    by cpinva on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 01:11:24 AM EST
    The love process more than they love efficiency, probity or common sense.
    while this may well be true, you'd think a judge, any judge, would, at minimum, at least give a cursory glance at the "basis" of any request for a restraining order. any order for that matter. had this judge taken five minutes, one would hope he'd have sent her to a hospital instead. this constitutes judicial negligence, if not actual misconduct. he should be held personally liable for the legal fees incurred by mr. letterman. i guarantee he'll read what he's agreeing to next time.

    Re: Frivolous TRO Issued Against Letterman (none / 0) (#5)
    by MikeDitto on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 01:32:49 PM EST
    CNN reports that the TRO has been quashed.