Supreme Court addresses protective orders

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The Indiana Supreme Court released two opinions today regarding the service of protective orders to respondents.

In Richard Joslyn v State of Indiana, No. 49S04-1102-CR-85, the Supreme Court held that a “minor defect in the service of a protective order was cured by (Richard) Joslyn’s statements to police and his testimony at trial.” Because of this, the court affirmed Joslyn’s convictions of Class C felony stalking and four counts of Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy, which were all based on violations of the protective order.

In Jeffrey Tharp v. State of Indiana, No. 49S02-1005-CR-256, the court reversed Jeffrey Tharp’s conviction of invasion of privacy. In that case, the court wrote that “proof of knowledge must be beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence of oral notice in this case, however, is insufficient to sustain Tharp’s conviction.”

Joslyn claimed he was not properly served with his protective order that had been filed by Stephanie Livingston. A deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department served Joslyn with a copy of the protective order by attaching it to a door at his home. However, under Indiana Trial Rule 4.1 (B), a copy of the order was also to be sent via first class mail. There was no indication this took place.

But at trial, the court admitted a recording and transcript of Joslyn's statement to police where he stated he knew there was a restraining order and that he found it at his residence, even if he was somewhat unclear regarding the date the order was received. The incidents in question, including a note left on the front porch of the home where Livingston was staying, four broken windows to Livingston’s friend’s vehicle, and Joslyn hiding in the crawl space where Livingston lived, took place after the protective order was served.

“We agree with the Court of Appeals that Joslyn’s admission of receipt is sufficient to sustain his convictions,” wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. “As the court noted, the purpose of the Indiana Civil Protection Order Act is to promote the protection and safety of all victims of domestic violence and prevent future incidents. It would run contrary to this purpose if we were to embrace Joslyn’s contention that a defendant does not violate the criminal code because of some defect in civil process even where the court had in fact issued a protective order and the defendant in fact knew it had done so.”

Chief Justice Shepard also addressed the importance of protective orders to prevent domestic violence in the Joslyn opinion.

“The declared legislative intent that these provisions in the Code be interpreted in a way that will ‘promote the: protection and safety of all victims of domestic or family violence in a fair, prompt, and effective manner; and [the] prevention of future domestic and family violence,’” he wrote. “Joslyn’s proposed rule that one who acknowledges actual receipt at his home but not an additional copy by mail commits no violation would have real world implications placing far too many Hoosiers at risk of becoming a domestic violence statistic.”

In Tharp, however, it was not as clear as to whether the respondent was aware of the protective order against him.

When officers pulled Tharp’s car over during a traffic stop Feb. 16, 2009, they found the woman who filed a protection order against him on Oct. 1, 2008, Lisa Pitzer, and her daughter, among the passengers in the vehicle.

When officers ran Tharp’s information through a computer records check, they learned about the protective order, as well as the existence of an active warrant for Tharp for operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and that his license was suspended.

On Feb. 18, 2009, Pitzer filed a request for dismissal of the protective order and the court granted her request the same day.

At trial, Tharp denied he was ever served with the order or that Pitzer ever told him about it, and he denied that he told the officers that he was aware of the order. A return of service for the order indicated the service attempt had failed because he had moved.

In her testimony, Pitzer said she had told Tharp about the order when they got back together, a few months after she filed the order in October 2008. She also testified that she told him prior to the February 2009 traffic stop, but that she also thought she had the order dismissed prior to that time.

“…was there substantial evidence of probative value from which a finder of fact could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Tharp knowingly violated a protective order? We conclude that the mixed messages from Pitzer are oral notice of the type that is insufficient for a conviction. Put another way, the evidence is insufficient that Tharp received adequate notice of the protective order,” Chief Justice Shepard wrote.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues