Need for non-violent orders?

July 23, 2008
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On Tuesday, tragedy struck in Indianapolis when a man allegedly murdered two people – his ex-wife and her boyfriend – and then reportedly turned the gun on himself. The man had a history of violence, according to police and news reports, and the ex-wife had a non-violent contact order against her ex-husband for past threats and violent action toward her, including the threat he would kill her and himself.

However, don’t all people essentially have a non-violent contact order for each other as part of a civilized society that seeks to punish those who hurt others unnecessarily? And legally, are these court orders even in line with Indiana Code 34-26-5, the Indiana Civil Protective Order Statute?

The legal director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence raises these issues, adding the ICADV, along with attorneys at Baker & Daniels working pro bono, filed a notice of appeal for two such orders on Tuesday.

Considering the non-violent contact order didn’t prevent violence against a woman who had the foresight to file for a protective order, it could be said that it didn’t do anything, or at least it didn’t do enough to protect her this time. Some may also argue that all protective orders are just a piece of paper anyway, or may claim there are instances when people abuse the system when they file such orders without enough proof of an abusive or threatening situation.

But why would judges issue these so-called non-violent orders in at least two counties in Indiana – Marion and Lake? Is there a need to have the option of non-violent contact orders for certain circumstances, or not? We hope to get answers to these questions for a future article, and as always, welcome input from the legal community. Post comments about this issue here, or send an e-mail to rberfanger@ibj.com.
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