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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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