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Judges reverse protection order

April 22, 2010

A protection order under Indiana Code Section 34-26-5 against a woman should not have been issued because there was no evidence of domestic violence, stalking or a sex offense as required by statute, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

Vicky Tisdial appealed the issuance of a protection order against her in favor of Christine Young, who lives near Tisdial. Both live near a park where Tisdial would often put bread on the park's pathways to feed animals. Young, who walked her dogs in the park daily, was annoyed by the bread and asked Tisdial to leave some room for others who walk the path. Tisdial ran toward Young and threatened to spray her with a can of Mace. During another encounter between the two, Young yelled at Tisdial to stop putting bread in the pathways and Tisdial ran at Young and sprayed her with Mace.

Young then filed a petition under I.C. Section 34-26-5, the Civil Protection Order Act, for a protection order, which the trial court granted the same day. After a hearing on the matter, the trial court upheld the original order through May 2011.

In Vicky L. Tisdial v. Christine Young, No. 29A05-0909-CV-544, the appellate court reversed the protection order. The CPOA authorizes the issuance of a protection order only where the petitioner shows violence by a family or household member, stalking, or a sex offense has occurred. The trial judge granted it based on stalking, but there's no evidence Tisdial ever stalked Young. Stalking requires some evidence that the actor is looking for the victim, but the encounters between Young and Tisdial happened because they both used the park and Young verbally initiated each encounter.

"Although Young was understandably concerned regarding the possibility of future fights and reasonably sought legal recourse, we do not believe the general assembly intended orders for protection under the CPOA to serve as a remedy for a situation that entailed fighting between unrelated individuals," wrote Judge Margret Robb for the majority.

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