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Protective order reversed for lack of evidence

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A divorcing woman’s protective order against her soon-to-be ex-husband was not supported by evidence, an appeals panel ruled Thursday in reversing the trial court’s order.

The panel found evidence in the record – including the judge’s own uncertainty – didn’t meet the statutory minimum for issuing a protective order in Justin D. Maurer v. Crystal Cobb-Maurer, 02A03-1304-PO-129.

Senior Judge Frederick A. Schurger issued an ex parte protective order for Cyrstal Cobb-Maurer against Justin Maurer that was transferred to the couple’s divorce case earlier this year. Neither party testified, though their attorneys engaged in a back-and-forth exchange to which the parties agreed everything each said was true.

“The Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure and the Indiana Rules of Evidence neither explicitly allow nor prohibit this practice as a proper method of presenting evidence, but neither party objected to carrying on the hearing in this fashion. Suffice it to say, the line between evidence and argument was significantly blurred,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote in a footnote.

Evidence that was presented included one email from Justin to Crystal, in which he wishes her happy birthday and says he wishes to restore their marriage. It also says he disapproves of and forgives her for a relationship with another man and quotes Bible passages.

Crystal also said Justin touched her “in some sort of effort to get her to abide by his wishes to save the marriage.”

“The trial court gave only this comment on the evidence before ruling: ‘I’ve got an incident I’m bothered by the uh extent of the uh, uh harassing, uh or the email uh exchanges, I think are, reached the level of harassment,’” Robb wrote for the panel that also included Judges James Kirsch and Patricia Riley.

“These matters should be treated with the care and consideration that the gravity of their purpose demands. To that end, we believe that this case demonstrates the shortcomings — on many levels — of a hearing on such matters conducted without thorough presentation of the evidence and examination of the parties involved.

“After a review of the record, we are left with the firm conviction that there was not sufficient probative evidence presented at the hearing to support a finding that the contacts in evidence would cause a reasonable person and in fact caused Crystal to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened. Therefore, there was not sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s issuance of a protective order.”

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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