Several years ago, the Indiana General Assembly passed a comprehensive civil protective order act. This legislation was aimed at addressing the problem of domestic violence within certain family units. Now, a version of this uniform act is adopted in virtually every state.
There is a national depository where domestic protective orders are immediately placed online and available to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. However, there is growing concern that these are abused by certain litigants in domestic cases, particularly contested divorce and paternity matters.
This blog post covers a recent decision decided with the Court of Appeals1 that protective orders covering those that make the same allegations, which may reflect bad faith and abuse of the system; this Court held they are subject to the doctrine of res judicata.
Generally, this doctrine keeps the same claim (same allegations set forth in a second or later petition) from being petitioned and litigated again. This protects those wrongfully accused who prevail at a protective order hearing from having a litigant file a subsequent protective order petition with the same claim and issues again. Such may be dismissed if it is filed under this new case.
Specifically, in this just-decided case, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a petitioner’s receipt of a third protective order, concluding it was barred by the doctrine of res judicata because it made the same claims. In this case, the Court of Appeals found that the litigant, who seeking protective orders on the same facts, demonstrated a pattern moving from court to court to get the results wanted; and the Court found that the Petition should have been denied. While the Court of Appeals acknowledged the importance of deterring and timely addressing domestic violence, the Court indicated it could not condone the use of this tool tactically obtain an advantage in civil litigation.
So what does this mean for a person who has had the same protective order filed multiple times against them? In short, now instead of presenting evidence on every issue, the claim may be dismissed on the doctrine of res judicata avoiding abuses of the civil protective order act, promoting the use of court time for legitimate domestic violence concerns, and protecting the wrongfully accused.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates routinely handle domestic order defenses throughout the state of Indiana. Now we have this powerful tool and such may be available to use in your defense. Never underestimate the power of an issued protective order. In fact, once a hearing is held and the defense fails, not only is it posted on a national database, but an individual is Brady-disqualified (cannot possess firearms and ammunition), and this may go hand-in-hand with a criminal prosecution. This blog post is written for general information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice or solicitation for specific representation. Is an advertisement.