The Impact of Student Assistance on the Granting and Service of Temporary Restraining Orders

61 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2019 Last revised: 20 Dec 2021

See all articles by Ian Ayres

Ian Ayres

Yale University - Yale Law School; Yale University - Yale School of Management

Brendan Costello

Independent

Elizabeth Villarreal

Yale University - Law School

Date Written: August 26, 2019

Abstract

Temporary Restraining Orders (“TROs”) provide victims of domestic violence temporary ex parte court-ordered protection against further abuse. Because the vast majority of TRO applications are filed pro se, legal and logistical hurdles often prevent deserving applicants from receiving the legal protection to which they are entitled. Chief among these hurdles is the fact that TROs do not go into effect until they are served on respondents, yet service rates are very low.

In this Article, we study the factors that affect whether judges grant ex parte TRO applications and whether the TROs are subsequently served. In particular, we evaluate the impact of a program in New Haven, Connecticut, that uses law students to provide clerical, non-legal assistance to applicants. We find that applicants assisted by Yale Law School students are no more or less likely to have their applications granted, but that student assistance is associated with a double-digit percentage point increase in in-hand service. Factors that affect grant rates include gender, judge assignment, and various severity factors like police involvement. We confirm earlier evidence that service rates of TROs are exceptionally low, and we find that in-hand service rates are relatively lower for people of color. We conclude by proposing possible reforms to law school interventions and the TRO application process that would reduce granting and service hurdles for pro se applicants.

Keywords: Temporary Restraining Order, TRO, Domestic Violence, Service, Service of Process, Law School Clinics

JEL Classification: K36, K41, K42, K14

Suggested Citation

Ayres, Ian and Costello, Brendan and Villarreal, Elizabeth, The Impact of Student Assistance on the Granting and Service of Temporary Restraining Orders (August 26, 2019). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 53, No. 2, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3443201 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3443201

Ian Ayres

Yale University - Yale Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
203-432-7101 (Phone)
203-432-2592 (Fax)

Yale University - Yale School of Management

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

Elizabeth Villarreal

Yale University - Law School ( email )

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