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Mother's actions support contempt finding

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld finding a mother in contempt of court for not dismissing a protective order against her ex-husband as required by their dissolution decree. The judges also affirmed the award of compensatory damages and attorney fees to the father, but reversed a 10-day sentence imposed for future violations.

In Barbara (Rosario) Bessolo v. William I. Rosario, No. 29A02-1108-DR-789, Barbara Bessolo and William Rosario, who have a young daughter, divorced Dec. 1, 2010. As part of their mediated settlement agreement, Bessolo was to dismiss a protective order she had against Rosario by Nov. 12, although the terms of the agreement weren’t binding until it was approved by the court. Even after the decree was approved in December, Bessolo didn’t dismiss the protective order.

An incident on Dec. 5, 2010, led to Bessolo calling the police on Rosario and telling officers she had a protective order against him. Rosario was arrested, spent 20 hours in jail and had to pay $2,500 to expunge the arrest from his record. She filed for the protective order to be dismissed two days later.

Rosario then filed a motion to show cause requesting Bessolo be held in contempt for her actions. The trial court ordered Bessolo to pay $10,000 in compensatory damages, $10,000 in attorney fees, and imposed the suspended jail sentence. She appealed, but the COA affirmed.

Although the divorce wasn’t approved until Dec. 1, instead of Nov. 12 as the agreement originally stated, Bessolo still had to file to dismiss the protective order once the settlement was approved, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. The judges upheld the monetary damages and attorney fees imposed, finding the experience was a humiliating one for Rosario. He was handcuffed in front of his young daughter in a public parking lot and had to miss a day of work. The COA reversed the imposition of the suspended jail sentence because it does not coerce current or future compliance with a specific court order. The judges also denied Rosario’s request for appellate 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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