Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5054

Title:

AN ACT PROTECTING VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Vote Date:

3/28/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

3/14/2016

File No.:

602

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Governor's Bill

REASONS FOR BILL:

Governor Malloy recommended this bill to protect victims of domestic violence.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy, Karen Buffkin, General Counsel: This legislation protects victims of domestic violence during a dangerous period of time, the hours following service of a temporary restraining order and the days that lead up to the first court appearance. This bill makes a person ineligible, temporarily, to possess firearms and ammunition while he or she is the subject of a temporary restraining order, pending a court hearing. Additionally, this proposal is constitutional, and not a violation of due process; people who lie on applications for TROs are criminally liable for perjury and will be held accountable; the risk warrant process does not provide the necessary protections for victims of domestic violence.

Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, Commissioner Dora Schriro: Supports the Governor's proposal. This bill closes the current loophole allowing individuals that are subject to an ex parte restraining order to remain in possession of firearms, thus leaving victims of domestic violence at an unnecessarily increased risk. Under this legislation, the time period for compliance of a full restraining order would be reduced from two business days to “immediately, but in no event more than twenty-four hours after notice has been provided.” Furthermore, this proposal prohibits possession of firearms and/or ammunition upon notice of becoming subject to an ex parte restraining order. Although current law makes provision for risk warrant applications in probable cause situations, this proposal is more appropriate.

Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate, Sarah Eagan, J.D., Child Advocate: Urges the enactment of this bill strengthening existing protections to victims of domestic violence. The provisions of this bill ensures the safety of victims who seek civil restraining orders by permitting the court to temporarily withhold an alleged perpetrator's access to firearms, gun permits, and eligibility certificates for up to 14 days pending outcome of a hearing. In addition, OCA further supports enhancements to current procedures to ensure proper service thereby requiring the State Marshal Commission to improve its responsiveness to applicants.

Connecticut Office of the Victim Advocate, Natasha M. Pierre, Esq: Fully supports this proposal. The orders of protection that this bill provides is one of many tools that victims of domestic violence may utilize to ensure their safety and the safety of their children.

President Pro Tempore, Senator Martin M. Looney: Supports this proposal that would improve the service of temporary restraining orders, to better protect victims of domestic violence. This proposal is by nature temporary and of extremely short duration, at most fourteen days if the TRO is served immediately. This bill protects the safety of applicants and their families, literally, the difference between life and death. In addition, this bill makes changes to the service of process for TROs. Having trained law enforcement present to deescalate potentially dangerous situations will greatly enhance victim safety. Furthermore, the reforms that are reflected in this proposal are recommendations by the Task Force to Study Service of Restraining Orders, created in Public Act 14-217.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal: “When domestic abusers are the most dangerous, at the height of their rage, the law – both in Connecticut and on the federal level – is the weakest.” This proposal would enhance the safety of domestic violence victims, at the state level, similar to the Lori Jackson Domestic Violence Survivor Protection Act.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Redding Police Department, Chief Douglas Fuchs: Supports this bill intending to protect victims of domestic violence at a vulnerable time. In addition, the condition in the bill requiring an expedited hearing under certain circumstances, for individuals subject to the temporary restraining order, who are required to carry a firearm as part of their employment, provides some protection from the potential for malicious “prosecution” before due process has been carried out.

Brookfield Police Department, Chief Robin L. Montgomery: Supports this bill which addresses the recommendations of the Task Force to Study Service of Restraining Orders established pursuant to Public Act 14-217. This bill will provide the most comprehensive protection of victims of domestic violence at the most dangerous time, and will strengthen the process designed to help victims.

Manchester Police Department, Chief Marc Montminy: Supports this bill protecting victims of domestic violence during the most dangerous time by temporarily removing firearms from their abuser, when the abuser has received notice that he or she is the subject of a temporary, ex-parte restraining order. In addition, HB 5054, Sec.3. Section 46b-15(b), which states that a hearing on the application be made as soon as possible if the respondent's scope of employment allows for the respondent to carry a firearm as an essential requirement, is critical for individuals who may be subject to a job loss as a result of ex-parte orders.

CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV), Karen Jarmoc, CEO: Supports this bill because it provides the most comprehensive protection of victims of domestic violence at the most dangerous time and strengthens processes within a system designed to help them. In addition, as co-chair of the Task Force to Study Service of Restraining Orders, established pursuant to Public Act 14-217, this bill addresses several of the recommendations.

Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), Carolyn Treiss, Executive Director: Supports this bill which serves to close the current gap in the ex parte restraining order statute which does not include a provision to disarm a dangerous abuser with firearms immediately, who may retaliate after service of the order. This bill will enable a judge to order firearm removal upon issuance of an ex parte restraining order, when the victim indicates that her abusive partner has firearms thereby posing a serious safety concern.

The Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), Catherine Bailey, Legal and Public Policy Director and Madeline Granato, Policy Associate: Supports this bill which addresses several of the recommendations of the Task Force to Study Service of Restraining Orders. In addition, Women in abusive relationships are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a firearm, and the most dangerous time for a victim is during the time where steps are taken to end the relationship. This bill will protect victims as best as possible during these times.

Prudence Crandall Center Inc., Daniela Bellows: Supports this bill which requires respondents to immediately, no later than 24 hours after order notification, surrender their firearms and ammunition. This bill will keep victims of domestic violence safer with regard to firearms, but also because it decreases the number of days necessary for service.

Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Danielle Brown, Esq.: Supports this bill affording critical protection to victims of domestic violence who have sought help by obtaining a temporary restraining order.

League of Women Voters of Connecticut Inc., Jane Eyes, Social Policy Director: This bill is an important measure to protect women who are struggling to escape abusive relationships during their most vulnerable time immediately after they have requested a restraining order.

The Center for Family Justice, Marisa Garwacki: Supports this bill because it will provide the most comprehensive protection for victims of domestic violence at the most dangerous time and strengthen the processes within a system designed to help them.

Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Deb Heinrich, Director of Policy and Public Relations: Supports this bill giving victims of domestic violence the tools they need to take steps to leave a relationship safely.

Battered Women's Justice Project, Kristine Lizdas, Legal Program Director: Submitted memorandum in support because victims need options as provided in the bill. Furthermore, explicitly authorizing the courts to surrender the firearms of the respondent in an ex parte or temporary restraining order addresses the “complex relationship between gun control and protecting victims of domestic violence.”

Women's Center of Greater Danbury, Ann Rodwell-Lawton, Legislative Liaison, Director of Education, Training, & Outreach: Supports this bill which will protect victims of domestic violence at the most dangerous time and strengthen processes within a system designed to help them.

Center for American Progress, Chelsea Parsons, Vice President, Guns and Crime Policy: Supports this bill which closes a serious gap in Connecticut law leaving many women vulnerable to lethal violence at the hands of abusers at precisely the time when they face the greatest risk. This bill ensures that domestic abusers do not continue to have access to guns during the period of heightened risk after the issuance of a temporary restraining order.

Interval House, Penni Micca: Supports this bill addressing several recommendations of the Task Force to Study Service of Restraining Orders. Additionally, because of the risk associated with gun ownership by batterers, there is an urgent need for this change.

Newtown Action Alliance, Po Murray, Chairman: Supports this bill similar to other states that already have laws in place to prevent individuals subject to temporary restraining orders from accessing firearms by court order. This bill provides that sworn police officers make service of temporary restraining orders, pending a hearing to take place no more than 14 days later. This is a common sense measure.

Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence, Jonathan Perloe: Supports this bill improving protection of domestic abuse victims by prohibiting subjects of temporary restraining orders from possessing firearms.

Safe Futures of Southeastern Connecticut: Supports this bill's goal of temporarily removing firearms from the victim's abuser when they have received notice that they are the subject to a temporary, ex-parte restraining order.

The Center for Family Justice, Kayte Cwikla-Masas, Yolanda Mateo and Angela Schlingheyde, JD: Supports this bill which will temporarily remove firearms from the victim's abuser during the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence, when the abuser has received notice that he or she is the subject of a temporary, ex parte restraining order. Additionally, the bill addresses several recommendation of the Task Force to Study Service of restraining Orders, established pursuant to Public Act 14-217.

Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury, Inc. Lee R. Schlesinger, Executive Director and Margaret L. Rosa, Associate Director: Supports this bill protecting victims of domestic violence providing comprehensive protection during the most dangerous time and strengthens processes within a system designed to help them.

Wendy Skratt, Stamford CT: Supports this bill because this is a better solution with regard to temporary restraining orders.

Chrysalis Domestic Violence Services, Linsey Walters, MS, Director of Programs: Supports this bill's goal of protecting victims when they are most vulnerable by temporarily removing firearms from their abuser. Further, this bill addresses several recommendations of the Task Force to Study Serve of Restraining Orders established pursuant to Public Act 14-217.

New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Aaron P. Wenzloff, Staff Attorney: Supports this bill making improvements to the court system to help victims of domestic violence to obtain a temporary restraining order against their abusers. This bill will ensure that obtaining service of process of a TRO is easier, marshals serving TROs are more reliable and more accountable to domestic violence victims, and collection of data statewide to ensure continuation of improvements to the system. Additions to the bill such as notice to applicants of effectuation of service, data collection and study of “Marshall of the Day” Practice, and continuances of TRO hearings/orders are recommended.

Support in form letter: The following individuals submitted written testimony “expressing support” for the bill on the grounds that it addresses public safety concerns:

Nicollette Aranibar, Ilene Coman, Shirin Dorne, Mark Franklin, Charlie Galliher, Sarah Hemingway. Pamela Hovland, Anne Hughes, Susan Iseman, Penny Johnston, Hannah Kalichman, Miranda Pacchiana, Deborah Palmieri, Amy Pines, Sarah A. Raskin, PhD, ABPP/ABCN, Barbara Richardson, Cathy Roche, Nicole Salisbury, Linda Scacco, Lisa Schwartz, Scott Schweizer, Shira Tarantino, Tara Veith, Estelle Webb, Gabi Coatsworth Wilson

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, Christopher Kopacki, Ph.D., Connecticut State Liaison: Opposes this bill allowing government seizure of personal property without due process of law, a Fourth and Fifth Amendment violation. This bill is unconstitutional.

Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, Attorneys Ioannis A. Kaloidis and John C. Drapp: Opposes this bill which tramples the right to bear arms pursuant to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution and article first, 15 of the Connecticut Constitution. Additionally, the guarantees of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article first, 10 of the Connecticut Constitution is ignored by this legislation.

Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen, James Crook: Opposes much of this legislation which removes constitutional protections guaranteed by the CT and the U.S. Constitutions.

Thomas Apanovitch, Windsor, CT: Opposes this bill as a violation of Second Amendment Rights.

Kurt Asplund, East Lyme CT: Opposes this bill violating due process.

Ray Bevis, Wolcott CT: Opposes this bill which affects people who choose to arm themselves for protection

William Boylan, Middletown CT: Opposes this bill which will support ex parte temporary restraining order application's use as a form of revenge.

Capt. William Brown: Opposes this bill violating Fourth Amendment rights.

Bill Corbino: Opposes this bill because of its implications of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, and Eight Amendment Constitutional rights.

Andrew Covell: Opposes this bill as a violation of Due Process.

Guy Cranfill, Ledyard CT: Opposes this bill infringing on one's right to bear arms and the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Willam D. Curlew: Opposes this legislation which fails to adequately safeguard the rights of the accused and equally fails to provide full and complete return of valuable personal property of the exonerated.

Roy Downey, Higganum CT: Opposes this bill violating someone's fundamental Constitutional Rights by the accusation of one person, without a hearing, criminal charges, or a police report.

Bob Ferguson, Weston CT: Opposes this bill which will deprive people's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Glen Fettes, Milford CT: Opposes this bill because seizing firearms and ammunition without a hearing is unjust.

Glenn Frank: Opposes this bill which will remove a person's constitutional rights without due process.

Jenn Gleason, Waterbury CT: Opposes this bill violating Second Amendment and Due Process, in addition to violation of Connecticut Constitution.

John Gori: Opposes this bill negatively affecting a person's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Rose Gori: Opposes this bill negatively affecting a person's Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights

Paul Goulekas, Niantic CT: Opposes this bill violating the Second Amendment rights of the accused.

William Hillman, Bethel CT: Opposes this bill ignoring due process. This emotional and ill-thought bill must be rejected.

Daniel J. Kearney, East Hampton CT: Opposes this bill infringing on Second Amendment rights and Due Process rights.

William Knapp: Opposes this bill granting those who wish to complain, the freedom to do so without any penalty for “falsely doing so.” This bill is very “Unamerican.”

John Koch, Shelton CT : Opposes this bill since this is another attempt of this legislature to grab guns without due process of law.

Dan Marcil, Thomaston CT: Opposes this bill causing an individual to lose a fundamental Constitutional right.

William Morey: Opposes this bill, a flagrant violation of the Founding Father's full intent of the Second and Fifth Amendment Rights.

Barry Michelson: Opposes this bill with tramples one's Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment Constitutional rights.

James Nault and Bonnie Nault: Opposes this bill violating Constitutional procedures and improperly burdens a law-abiding citizen's Second Amendment rights.

David Naumec, Scotland CT: Opposes this bill's unconstitutional measures, and clearly goes against an individual's right to due process.

Mike Ninteau, Lebanon CT: Opposes this bill which illegally strips individual rights. There is a mental health crisis, not a gun issue, and there are current laws addressing the issues of non-law abiding citizens. Therefore, “leave the law abiding alone.”

Michael J. Nowacki, New Canaan CT: Opposes this bill because of issues of “substantive due process” to “seize arms.” This bill is an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth and Second Amendments.

Eric Nulsen: Opposes this bill restricting Second Amendment rights.

Leonard Paquette, Southington CT: Opposes this bill circumventing the First and Second Amendment of the Constitution.

Richard Pieczarka: Opposes this bill because it is bad law and is also “unconstitutional.”

James Ritchie: Opposes this bill that takes away a person's natural right of protection, and without due process.

Holly Sanady: Opposes the bill which infringes on the right to due process.

Robert N. Starr, Torrington, CT: Opposes this bill because it is a denial of a constitutionally protected right and/or the confiscation of lawfully owned property.

Matthew Tyszka, Jr., Esq.: Opposes this bill depriving a lawful citizen of his firearms based on spite and vengeance, or some imagined sense of danger by the applicant, since Connecticut statistics from 2004 to 2008 show that only 50% of all applications for ex parte restraining order contain no reasonable belief that the respondent would commit harm after review by a judge.

Brian Wasik: Opposes this bill because people have the right to keep and bear arms.

Kurt Weisheit, Terryville CT: Opposes this bill because Connecticut Citizens should be afforded a proper hearing in front of a judge before any property can be seized.

Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Scott Wilson, President: Opposes this legislation violating “Due Process.”

Brent Wiltshire: Opposes this bill because it circumvents any due process, and infringes on the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.

Kristine Witherill, Ledyard CT: Opposes this bill infringing on due process rights protected by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Sean Yasensky: Opposes this bill because there are no provisions to prosecute people who have lied or falsified testimony in order to get a restraining order thorough deceit.

Opposition in form letter: The following individuals submitted written testimony “opposing” the bill:

Ken Arant, Nick Amoratis, Arthur Barstis, Roy Barber, Timothy Begin, Fred M. Belinsky, Adam Blackman, Donald Borsch Jr, Justin Bradley, Peter Brown, Craig Criswell, Scott Crittenden, Arthur Daigle, Patrick Dingman, Robert Dingman, Garnet Drakiotes, James, E. Franklin, Deborah Furletti, Martin Garcia, Cheryl K. Graham, Jim Griffin, Walter Hagedorn, Jeffrey C. Hall, Erik Hansen, Robin Henchcliffe, Edward Honnen, John Horbal, Don Jennings,

William Kellerm, Russell E. Kieslich Jr., Stephen Kennedy, Robert P. Lee, Cheryl Lemos, Marino A. Limauro Jr., Joseph Locke, Matthew Loncar, John Lujic, Ania Macri, Giofranco, Macri, Lily Ann Malizia, Tom Maloney, Mary Anne Marcella, Matthew W. McBrien, Scott McClenning, Frank McDonough, Linda Mercler, Kris Miller, Joe Mirmina, Jr, Michael F. Navaroli, Robert E. Niesyn, Stephen Obert, Robert Olson, David Ortiz, Jeff Palazzo, E. Terry Parker, David Peck, Anthony Piselli Sr., Kyle Potenzlani, Andrew Purchia, Michael Quigley

Kevin Rame, RTF Firearms Training, Abigail Ruiz, Holly Sanady, Michael Scheck, Antonio Simoes, Seth D. Smith, Laura Springer, Ken Stein, Bill Stevens, Warren Stevens, Michael Stiefel, Michael Sulkis, Joseph Tampellini, Michael Thibault, John C. Thomas Jr., Adam Tremlett, Robert D. Tworkowski, Jr., Nicole Vacila, Justin Volovski, Charles Wailonis, Keith Werwin, Mike Westkamper, Rick Wiese, Robert Wildermuth, Mark Wootten, Michael Yamakawa, Gary Zannotti, John Zebroski

Reported by: Pauleen Consebido, Legal Intern

Date: 4/11/2016