Judges weighing protective orders may take notice of other cases

Judges who check for other cases when petitioned for protective orders do not violate judicial canons that restrict ex parte communications or independently investigating facts, according to the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications.

The finding was issued Tuesday in advisory opinion #2-17. The opinion addressed whether judges are allowed to take judicial notice of records of other cases or orders involving the same parties when petitioned for protective orders, no-contact orders or injunctions.

“In general, a judge who takes judicial notice of his or her own court’s, or another court’s, records pursuant to Indiana Rule of Evidence 201, complies with Rule 2.9 of the Code of Judicial Conduct,” the commission determined. “A judge considering an emergency ex parte petition for a juvenile protection order, a child protection order, a civil protection order, or a workplace violence restraining order may, without advance notice to the parties, review electronic court records to determine whether there are other cases (or orders) involving the protected person(s) or the person whose conduct is sought to be restrained.

“A judge presiding over a case on the record, when both parties have been given notice and an opportunity to be heard, may also review and take judicial notice of court records. In both situations, if the judge does consult court records, the judge must notify the parties as soon as is practical and give them an opportunity to be heard on the propriety of judicial notice,” the advisory opinion concludes.

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