Harassment Prevention Orders Vacated

LL, age 63, lives with his wife in a small, but pretty home in Methuen. EF and his girlfriend AW live next door in a similar small, but pretty home. From July 2011 to May 2012 disputes arose between LL and his neighbors. In particular, LL found it upsetting that EF would park his truck and boat trailer in the area partially in front of LL’s house. LL allegedly made threats to flatten the tires of his neighbors’ vehicles and allegedly made other threats and harsh and objectionable comments against the neighbors. In July 2012 EF and AW went to Lawrence District Court and each obtained an harassment prevention order against LL. The orders were good for one year. The orders came up for an extension hearing on July 23, 2013.

LL contacted and retained Attorney Robert Lewin. Attorney Lewin went out to LL’s house to view the neighborhood and to see the two houses. According to LL, since the orders had been entered a year earlier LL had had no contact with his neighbors. Under Massachusetts Law a party seeking to extend an harassment prevention order has the burden of proving that there is a current need for the order. (On the other hand, the fact that an existing order has not been violated is not by itself reason enough to vacate an order.) Attorney Lewin prepared LL to testify at the hearing.

On July 23, 2013 Attorney Lewin and LL and the two neighbors appeared in Courtroom 6 in Lawrence District Court. The two neighbors testified as did LL. Attorney Lewin had prepared a Memorandum of Law for the Judge and argued forcefully that the fact that the neighbors had obtained an order one year ago does not mean that they are entitled to an order today. Attorney Lewin argued that the neighbors had not produced sufficient evidence to prove that today they still needed an order. The Judge agreed and vacated both harassment prevention orders against LL.