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COA reverses order requiring victim to pay attorney fees

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A man who claims he was struck by a vodka bottle that resulted in 18 stitches won’t have to pay attorney fees to a woman against whom he had been awarded a protective order, the Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, reversing a lower court order.

Richard Troy Dunno was granted a protective order on Dec. 22, 2011, a day after he told an Allen Superior magistrate that Ronalee Rasmussen hit him with the bottle. The P.O. was issued ex parte.

Dunno failed to appear at a hearing in February at which time the order was dismissed. Rasmussen presented evidence that she wasn’t the person responsible for the offense and asked the court for attorney fees, which were granted in the sum of $500. Prior to the appeal in Richard Troy Dunno v. Ronalee Rasmussen, 02A03-1207-PO-310, Dunno’s motions to correct error at the trial court failed.

“Dunno argues that “[a]llowing the trial court to award attorney fees against someone petitioning for a protective order would undoubtedly have a chilling effect and cause some victims of domestic violence to forgo making a legitimate plea for protection,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the unanimous panel. “Dunno also claims that the record does not support an attorney fee assessment under Ind. Code § 34-52-1-1(b).”

Finding that his claim was not frivolous or in bad faith, “We conclude that Dunno has made a prima facie showing that the award of attorney fees was improper,” Brown wrote. “We reverse the trial court’s judgment ordering Dunno to pay Rasmussen’s attorney fees.”


 

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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

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