Case Studies: Restraining Orders

Contractor Corrects Crippling Temporary Restraining Order in Final Order Hearing

A contractor retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after service of a temporary restraining order (TRO) his girlfriend obtained under the Sexual Assault Survivors Protection Act (SASPA). The girlfriend alleged that our client had committed a sexual assault on her in his home, where the contractor kept his tools and equipment in an adjacent barn. The TRO prevented the contractor from coming near the girlfriend, who, the TRO incorrectly indicated, resided in our client's home. In fact, the girlfriend had her own residence and had no personal property at our client's home. Our client did not object to a mutual restraint, maintaining that they had argued, she had struck him, and he had restrained her, after which they had consensual intimacy. But our client desired no further relationship with her, only needing access to his own home, tools, and equipment. Our lead defense attorney petitioned for an immediate hearing on a final restraining order (FRO). At the hearing, our lead defense attorney presented our client's above testimony. While the girlfriend's account differed as to the alleged sexual assault, her testimony under cross-examination otherwise corroborated our client's testimony and request. The court issued a final restraining order mutually preventing contact between the parties but rescinding any restriction on our client's access to his home and premises. Our representation achieved our client's goals quickly so that his contracting business suffered little interruption.

Psychologist Gains Modification of Restraining Order to Allow Child Contact

A psychologist retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his estranged wife obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO), preventing our client from having any contact not only with her but also with their two children. The psychologist and his wife were living apart but cooperating in the care of their children, whom the psychologist frequently picked up from school. The wife had gotten the TRO after an argument with our client in which she maintained that he had shoved and threatened her. Our client maintained that he had only raised his hands in self-defense as she struck him in anger and that his only threats were that he would take appropriate legal recourse if she struck him again. Our client did not object to a mutual no-contact restraint for a cooling-off period but insisted that a restraint involving the children was unnecessary and damaging to his relationship with the children. We presented these proofs at a hearing on a final restraining order, supported by the school and other documentation of our client's close relationship with his children. The court modified the TRO into a mutual restraint only between the parties while permitting contact between the parties for the exchange of child custody. Our client achieved his objective of preserving his close relationship with his children. Our services also reduced the risk of an impact on the client's psychology license and practice.

College Student Regains Campus Access After TRO Modification

The parents of a college student helped the student retain the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after a classmate obtained a temporary restraining order against our client. Our client admitted that he had a consensual romantic relationship with a classmate over the course of the prior term. Our client denied the order's other allegations that our client represented a threat to the safety and welfare of his classmate. Our client acknowledged that they had argued in a manner that brought them into physical contact but denied any assault or attempt, or threat to harm. Our client and the classmate lived in different campus housing with different food services and recreational facilities, well apart, but shared program majors and so shared classes, labs, and study facilities. The restraining order's no-contact terms effectively prevented our client from attending classes or continuing studies using their shared program's building because of the contact our client would necessarily have with the classmate. We, therefore, petitioned the court for a hearing to modify the TRO, presenting our client's testimony and other evidence of our client's generally good character, stable demeanor, and good peer relationships. The unrepresented classmate opposed modification of the TRO but, on cross–examination, admitted that our client was likely not a threat to her in any public space with others present. The judge, therefore, modified the TRO into a final order restraining both parties from personal contact in private spaces but without restraining remote communications or incidental public contact between the parties.

Caseworker Preserves Employment With Modification of TRO a Co-Worker Obtained

A caseworker retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after a co-worker in the same office obtained a TRO against our client. Their dispute arose out of an after-work social gathering of office workers that led to a romantic evening between our client and the complaining co-worker. Our client did not remember details of the evening because he acknowledged having gotten drunk at the gathering or the co-worker's house afterward. But the co-worker maintained in the court filing that although she had invited him to the house and initiated romantic conduct, our client had attempted to force himself on her before falling asleep on her couch. Because he had no memory of the event, our client admitted that he needed a substance abuse evaluation, which he pursued on our recommendation of a provider. Our client further indicated that he had no continuing romantic or other interest in the complaining co-worker other than needing access to the office to continue his employment. We communicated this position to the co-worker's counsel, who indicated that she would advise her client to consider the proposal at the hearing we requested to modify the order. Before taking testimony at the hearing, the judge suggested that the parties caucus over the proposed modification of the order to permit our client's access to the workplace. The caucus resulted in an agreement, which we then placed on the record so that the judge could modify the order.

Dentist Avoids Restraining Order Potentially Impacting Dental License

A dentist retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his wife retained a divorce attorney who demanded that the dentist consent to a restraining order in anticipation of a separation agreement and potential divorce to follow. The draft restraining order's apparent purpose was to keep our client from cutting off the wife's access to funds or concealing property. But the draft order included template language suggesting that the dentist was a threat to the wife's safety and the security of her property when to the contrary, our client had given no cause to his wife for any such concerns. Our client believed that the order was unnecessary without also recognizing that the order could have affected his dental license. We, therefore, advised our client not to agree to the order and to fight any such order leaving an inference of our client's unfitness for dental practice. Our client authorized us to communicate with the wife's attorney, with whom we negotiated an alternative order restricted to ensuring that the wife retained appropriate access to funds for her own support. We also introduced our client to conciliation services that he subsequently invoked to pursue reconciliation with his wife.

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