Actually, I saw my batterer in court yesterday. Apparently the charge was misdemenor battery, not misdemenor assault as I wrote in my diary on Sunday. I'm not sure what the difference is...
Anyway, I woke up yesterday in a blind panic...the jail told me on the phone on Sunday that the neighbor who had punched me in the face on Saturday night as I was closing my front door and then proceeded to try and beat the crap out of me was going to face a judge Monday morning. Court opens at 8:30am in Los Angeles, so I had this vision in my mind that he would be out on bail by 9am. So I was up as soon as my eyes opened on Monday (even though sleeping was a tough thing to do the night before) convinced I would see this guy as I was pulling out of the driveway to go get a restraining order.
The night before I had made arrangements with one friend to come and stay at her place for a few days...she lives in a part of LA that is zoned for horses and my dogs could go hang out in her barn and I could take her spare bedroom until I could figure out something a bit more long term. Then another friend, a rather large guy, was going to come by every few days to make sure my cats had enough food and water and scoop out the litter box (that alone makes him a saint) and generally check on the property and bring in my mail.
A good friend of mine had put me in touch with a good friend of hers...a guy who had been a cop for a long time and had then moved on to be a consultant for people who needed help navigating the system. So she put me in touch with him and the goodness of some people just blow me away...this guy dropped everything to help me. It was after dinner on a Sunday night and he called and gave me a "to do" list to get done on Monday morning. He ran a background check on the violent neighbor and then came up with a game plan for dealing with my situation. And he was in agreement with most of the comments in Sunday's diary: if this guy remains next door, move out.
Okay...so the sun comes up yesterday and I'm convinced that if I don't get out of the house and over to the courthouse before the court system opens for business that my life is in danger. I follow my new found former cop angel's advice and start with a call over to the City Attorney's office (another gem that I got from Guardian Angel: misdemenor's are prosecuted by the City Attorney, not the DA). So, I call the City Attorney's office Victims Assistance line and get a really nice woman on the phone who is all about helping me figure out what I need to get done to get a restraining order. Number one item to have: the yellow copy of the police report that LAPD is supposed to give every victim once they cart the perp off to jail. Did I get one from the cops on Saturday night? Nope! Wonderful, so now I have to go to the police station first. Not a good start.
Next, Guardian Angel told me to go for a Criminal Restraining order...not a Civil Harrassment restraining order that the cops told me to get. He told me that it was something the system took a lot more seriously. In order to get that, I had to talk to the prosecuting attorney. The Victims Assistance woman transferred me over to another department (one person apparently) who would be able to tell me how to get in touch with the right City Attorney to make my request; only problem: this person wasn't in on Monday. Okay, so I call the number for the Trial Office and get another woman on the phone who told me to forget it, they wouldn't make any decision on recommending a criminal restraining order until the perp was in front of the judge. Sigh, okay...so now I'm going to go to the police station to get my yellow copy of the police report and head over to the court house to get the paperwork on a civil restraining order started anyway. I was in a panic to get ANY restraining order...it really felt like my life depended on it.
Call the police station to tell them that I was coming over to get my yellow copy. Sorry says the cop on the other end of the line...no can do, the cops who made the arrest would have it and they aren't on duty this morning. You'll have to call the downtown records department to get a copy. The conversation ensued something like this:
Me: I'm sorry, but are you about to give me the number that's a recording that tells me I have to send in a written request and a check for $23 and they will mail me a copy?
Me: No, sorry. That's not going to work. I have been assaulted by my neighbor who's getting out today. I can't get a restraining order that the cops who arrested him told me to get with a yellow piece of paper that they didn't give me. I'm not going to mail in anything, I'm going to need you to make a xerox of the report and I'll come by to get asap.
Cop: I'm sorry, but we don't give out reports.
Me: And apparently you don't give out the victim's yellow copy of the report either. This is not acceptable...my life is in danger...I need the restraining order and I need LAPD to help me!
Cop: Okay...let me transfer you to the detectives who handle misdemenor's...perhaps they can help you.
Me: thank you
Dectective: No...I'm sorry, we don't have the yellow copy either. Actually, I don't have a file on this incident at all. This is a private arrest, we're basically doing this as a courtesy to you. There is no investigation in process. I can't help you.
Me: (head beginning to explode) Wonderful, thanks so much. Can you transfer me back to the front please?
Cop: LAPD, how can I help you?
Me: hello, you just spoke to me and sent me over to a detective who can't help me. I need someone at that station to give me a report.
Cop: I can't help you...we don't do that.
Me: (annoyed at this point) Officer, please don't make me lose it...I am living next door to a guy who wants to hurt me. I need a restraining order and LAPD isn't helping me! Can I speak to your supervisor?
Cop: Hold please.
New voice: Hello, ma'am?
Me: (okay, I admit it, by now I'm upset) I was assaulted by my neighbor Saturday night. The cops who arrested him told me to get a restaining order as soon as possible. I expect that this neighbor will be home today...I am NOT safe. I need you to give me a copy of the police report...I am not going to talk to some downtown department about mailing something. That's not going to happen today. What are you going to do to make this happen?
(now there is a voice in the background since my voice is a bit elevated, so this guy can probably hear the tension): just make her a copy of the report and tell her to come on over.
Cop: I'm making a copy...do you still need to speak to a supervisor?
Me: No thank you...I'll be right over.
At this point the 2 quick calls I was supposed to make before heading out have taken up over an hour and I'm not packed, the dogs aren't ready to go, the cat bowls are still put away. I'm going to have to come back to the house after I get the restraining order paperwork done. Great, the day was officially off to a bad start.
So...I hop in the car and head off. Get the report with no hassle from the cops and I head over to the courthouse. A good friend of mine had already gone over to see what was going on and if the neighbor had gotten in front of a judge yet. She calls to tell me that the Sheriff's department hasn't put out the inmate list for court yet, so we don't know which court the neighbor is going to be sent to yet. Okay, I figure that's good since it means he's still in jail. Time to start relaxing a little. Then...Guardian Angel calls...he's going to meet me at the courthouse to help me get done what I needed to get done today. REALLY??? Wow! How nice! Now I'm feeling MUCH better.
Get to the courthouse and find my friend. Bless her, she's done a lot of footwork already. Turns out the neighbor's name didn't appear on the list for that courthouse. After standing in a line we got to a clerk who told us that he was still in the jail, no reason why, but that if he was going to a courthouse today it would be a different one, since "his other cases are being dealt with over there." Other cases? Ohhh Realllllly? We give each other a quick high five and head over to the jail (it's part of the same civil court complex we are at) and stand in another line to speak to the sheriff's deputies who would know where he's at and what's going on (the Sheriff's deparment runs the jails here). That takes a bit of time and I have to say, it's a damn depressing place. Anxious people trying to get loved ones out, trying to see them, trying to get information. I felt a little guilty since it seemed I was the only one in line trying to keep someone in. A little guilty, but not too guilty. Anyway...we wait a while and a deputy finally tells us that he's been transported to the courthouse where his other cases are. Yikes!! We gotta go now...it's at least 20 minutes away and I need to get to the prosecuting attorney before he sees the judge.
Okay, so it's a mad dash over to the other courthouse and I call Guardian Angel to meet us there. We get over there only to find that the court is closed for lunch. His name isn't on any list at the courthouse and we have to ask the bailiff's at the court to find out where he is and what the situation is. At this point, I'm still convinced that he's going to get home before I am and that thought scares me. I try to call Guardian Angel to find him and damn if T Mobile gets NO reception at all where I am. Now I have a slight problem...I have no idea what Guardian Angel looks like, and he has no idea what I look like. An hour goes by with me pacing the hallways and looking like I'm search for someone as I'm looking for someone who's looking for someone too. Unfortunately, there's a lot of that going on at the courtouse and the courts are about to open and I need to find the prosecuting attorney and I haven't even started paperwork on the restraining order. I have no idea if neighbor is even in custody anymore...so I'm getting a bit tense and the day is ticking by and I haven't been seen by a doctor yet and haven't been able to talk to any Victim's Rights advocates about next steps. I'm standing near the front of the courthouse next to a guy making a phone call...and he's calling and leaving another message for me! Aha! You must be Guardian Angel! Aha! You must be Panicked Lady that I'm trying to help! Where have you been??
Turns out he's been very busy...he's already found the right prosecuting attorney and laid the groundwork on getting the criminal restraining order and given the attorney my side of the story. We walk into the courtroom and the attorney is standing at his desk with the bailiff waiting for the judge to come in. Both turn to look at us and the attorney says "are you Panicked Lady?". Yes, I am. He says "finally! Hold on, I'll be right with you."
Guardian Angel tells me that this is my chance to be on record with my side of the story and only I can make the official request for a criminal restraining order. That is what he really wants me to focus on...tell it like it is and get him to understand that you really need that. So, I wait a couple of minutes and then the attorney comes over to talk to me...we go out of the courtroom to talk and now it's up to me to make sure he understands the predicament I am in. I can't tell you a lot about what we said as it's pretty personal but I did tell the same story that I told here on Sunday. He was definitely sizing me up...would I be a good witness on the stand, was I believable, what was the whole story, etc. Turns out some of my story didn't make it into the police report that he had looked over...I guess I only got part of it in my xerox. He questioned me closely about these new details, he was concerned that it made me look like a liar since a defense attorney would ask my why I didn't tell the police everything...except that I did, they just didn't put it in the report. Side note: Honestly...what is UP with LAPD??
Well...I must have done okay since he told me that he was going to ask the judge for the criminal restraining order. Whew! He asked me what else I wanted. Well...can you make him go into rehab? No, but I'll ask for mandatory AA visits to be monitored by the court. (Guardian Angel scoffed at this when I told him).
So now my friend, Guardian Angel, and I sat down to wait. Prosecuting Attorney told me that the judge might want to talk to me and it hit me that I was going to have to sit there when the neighbor was brought in to see the judge. My guts turned to ice...I hadn't really thought about that...I was thinking that he might feel like he had power over me by making me sit in a courtroom and deal with him. No choice though...and the long wait began.
I don't know how the municipal courts do it...most of the cases in court that day were traffic related and it just droned on and on and on. I have a new respect for them...I don't know if I could do it. The judge was pretty cool and dealt with people very quickly but we had to sit for quite a while. Then the court took a quick break and we had to wait some more. Finally, court came back into session and I quickly realized that something had gone on behind the scenes with my neighbor. The judge sat down and said "well, are we ready for this case? Let's get it done." I don't know how many cases like this they handle, but they sort of acted like this was a little out of the norm...it sure wasn't a traffic violation. The bailiffs were looking at me, the public defender was looking at me, but not the judge or the prosecuting attorney. Obviously, some sort of conversation had happened.
In came the neighbor. I couldn't look...my stomach was in KNOTS and I could only stare at the judge. The charge was read and the judge asked the neighbor "how do you plead?" Neighbor: "No Contest". There would be no trial, this was going to end today. I didn't know what to make of that...maybe the prosecuting attorney didn't think it was worth going to court, maybe the neighbor didn't want to take his chances...who knows. Anyway, the judge read out the sentance: 20 days in jail and 3 years probation. 3 days credited for time served. There is a fine (not disclosed to me) that needs to be paid within 6 months and he needs to attend AA meetings 2 times a week for 6 months that the court will monitor and he has to appear in about 60 days to review his attendance. Then the judge went over every line of the criminal restraining order and asked him if he understood. He said he did. The prosecutor stood up to say that the victim was in the court and that he wanted to defendant to understand that the order covered every part of my property regardless of the 15 feet stipulation and that if he did ANYTHING to violate the order, that LAPD would arrest him immediately. The judge asked the defendant if he understood. He said he did. It was over. It dawned on me that he was going to be in jail for a few days and I was almost euphoric. Actually, I'm pretty sure I was euphoric. I had to wait for the order to be written up to get my copy and neighbor was taken away. I never looked at him...I never want to see him again but I'm sure I will.
Prosecuting attorney came over to me with the order, he told me to put a copy EVERYWHERE but to be careful with calling the cops...if I called too much they might get complacent. The LAPD complacent? Nahhh....
As I was leaving with Guardian Angel, the attorney pulled me aside and GA went with my friend out of the courtroom.
Attorney: who was that guys (paraphrasing here)
Me: He's Superman (paraphrasing too).
GA still wants me to move, but he's calling the person who owns neighbors house to convince him that it would be a very good idea for homeowner to get him out of there. If that doesn't happen, GA wants me to move. So the saga will continue....
Note: it took so long to get the criminal side of things done yesterday that I missed my doctor's appt. I am now off to see my doctor to document my injuries...I'm told it's still important to have that on record. This isn't close to done, but yesterday was a big step in getting my life back on track after being "battered" in my own home. I'll try to get back on line ASAP. Thank you to all the good advice and good wishes you all have given me so far.
Update: Hi everyone. Sorry I've been gone so long, just getting back online now. Will try to get thru the comments and start replying right now.