Today’s video features an example of a protection from abuse case where having an attorney made an enormous difference. Many times simply having a lawyer to help tell your story clearly can go a long way towards resolving your case. In this particular case, just the confusion around issues at hand could easily have led to a two year restraining order. Because of the speed at with a restraining order in Maine can be issued, and the devastating effect they can have on a person’s life, it was important for us to act quickly. In the end the most important factors for a successful outcome was a patient sorting of the facts and the ability to clearly relay them to the judge.
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Below is a transcript of the video:
Restraining Orders in Maine: An Example.
I had a case about six months ago where I was hired by a nice Somali family. Sort of the matriarch of the family, a Somali woman who didn’t speak very good English. Her daughter translated for me, I remember. And she had been served with the restraining order. A distant family member of hers were having a dispute, a love triangle. And this family dispute was all in Somali so it was unclear exactly what happened and what didn’t happen. And certainly the judge didn’t have any way of knowing what may have happened and what did not happen. We needed to go to trial.
The plaintiff told her story on the stand. And after telling her story of the entire issue it was a very simple matter of simply saying to the judge, judge this case needs to be dismissed, because the plaintiff hasn’t actually alleged any abuse. And so here was a situation where the plaintiff, who didn’t quite speaking English had gone into a District Court and gotten a restraining order against a member of their family, when no abuse occurred at all. And this defendant was able to hire a lawyer and make that crystal clear to the judge and the case was thrown out. It was a fairly easy victory once we actually got into court. But if there hadn’t been a lawyer there, I think the judge would’ve been extremely confused about what actually happened. And it wouldn’t surprise me a bit in the face of confusion that a judge would simply grant the restraining order just to be on the safe side. For this particular woman if a restraining order had been granted against my client and we had not been able to win that day. She would have had to move out of her house and refrain from any contact with her own family members for up to two years and any violation of that would’ve been a criminal offense.