Articles Posted in Harassment Prevention Orders

MT, a woman in her mid sixties, lived in a single family house in Andover with her husband. Immediately adjacent to MT’s property lived a family in another single family house. MT had issues. MT did not like certain things that her next door neighbors did in their yard. When the neighbors would come outside MT would go out into her yard and stare at the neighbors. Then MT began shouting obscenities at the neighbors (in the presence of the neighbor’s minor children). The neighbors began to keep a diary of the incidents and finally in October of 2016 went to Lawrence District Court and both the husband and wife were granted Harassment Prevention Orders against MT. The orders were to expire on October 24, 2017. In December of 2016 MT  saw her neighbor in the yard; MT went outside into her yard and walked over to the property line and began to stare at the neighbor. The neighbor got out his camera and began to film MT. The neighbor then went into his house and called the police. The police came and arrested MT and charged her with violating the Harassment Prevention Order. MT went to court and was placed on probation for violating the order. As the one year anniversary date of the order approached MT contacted and retained Attorney Robert Lewin of North Andover, MA to fight the extension of the order. Attorney Lewin told MT that where she had plead guilty to violating the order and where she was on probation for violating the order that it would be an uphill fight to get the order vacated.

The law with reference to extending these Harassment Prevention Orders is that the plaintiff (the person seeking to have the order extended) has the burden of proving that there is still a need for the order – that is that there is still a reasonable fear of the plaintiff being harassed – at the time the extension is sought. The law is identical with reference to extension of Abuse Prevention Orders as well.

Attorney Lewin thoroughly prepared MT to testify in court and Attorney Lewin prepared a written legal memorandum for the judge setting out in particular that the plaintiffs (MT’s neighbors) had the burden of proving that they still had a reasonable fear of being harassed by MT. On October 24, 2017, after a full hearing at which both sides testified, the judge in Lawrence District Court ruled in MT’s favor and refused to grant an extension of the order.

MW and her husband SW own a condominium unit in Ipswich. Their unit is one of eight units in this small complex. MW served as president of the condominium association. One of the owners in the association, KN, was very difficult. She paid her condo fees late; she abused her parking privileges; and she committed other violations of the rules and regulations of the condominium association. As president of the condominium association it was MW’s job to enforce the rules. MW sent KN a series of emails and called her as well to get her to comply. On August 30, 2017 KN went to Ipswich District Court (now in Newburyport) and applied for an Harassment Protection Order against MW and her husband SW. The Court sent out a Notice to MW and SW that there would be a hearing on September 15, 2017 at which hearing the Judge would decide whether or not to issue an order against either or both MW and SW.

MW and SW met with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. After reviewing the Complaints for Protection from Harassment and KN’s Affidavits and after having taken a detailed statement of the facts from MW and SW, Attorney Lewin was very confident that there was absolutely no basis whatsoever for the court to grant an order. MW and SW were great clients. They furnished Attorney Lewin with copies of all the condominium documents and all the email correspondence between them and KN. It was abundantly clear that all the emails and all the contact between MW, SW, and KN grew out of and concerned legitimate condominium business. Attorney Lewin thoroughly prepared MW and SW for the hearing. He went over their testimony with them in great detail.

On September 15, 2017 Attorney Lewin and MW and SW appeared at the Court ready for the hearing. KN was present as well. The case was called. KN testified. The Judge could see that there was no harassment here, that all the contact between MW and SW with KN had to do with legitimate condominium business. At the conclusion of the hearing the Judge said he was dismissing KN’s applications for harassment prevention orders immediately.

JO, a stunning 30 year old female Argentinian national living in Florida, began a relationship with a man in the summer of 2014. They met through a mutual friend on Facebook. The relationship had its ups and downs. It was on and then off and then on again. This continued for over two years. His use of drugs was a constant problem in the relationship. Finally in October of 2016 they broke up (but every now and then thereafter they get together for sex). I guess you could call them ex-lovers with benefits. In any event, after the breakup a long pattern of alleged harassment begins. The ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend allege that JO has made numerous false, defamatory, and inflammatory postings on Facebook (including the posting of pictures of the new girlfriend’s minor daughter). In addition they allege that JO has made repeated telephone calls to them at all hours of the night. Finally, the ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend (both of whom are now living in Lynn, MA) go to Lynn District Court and apply for orders against JO. The ex-boyfriend seeks an Abuse Prevention Order and the new girlfriend seeks an Harassment Prevention Order against JO. From Florida JO finds and hires Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover to represent her in Lynn Court. Attorney Lewin explained to JO that in order to maximize her chances of winning the two restraining order cases that JO would have to come to Massachusetts for the Court hearing. JO – via email – sent to Attorney Lewin a great deal of emails between JO and the ex-boyfriend that show that he is lying. In addition JO furnished to Attorney Lewin all her phone records to show that she did not make the calls that they were referring to. In addition Attorney Lewin was able to get the ex-boyfriend’s phone records which records cast doubt on his claims.

Attorney Lewin thoroughly prepared  JO for the hearing and for testifying in front of the Judge. Attorney Lewin explained to JO that there is one Judge in Lynn District Court who does most of the Restraining Order cases and she has a very very short fuse. When this Judge asks a question she wants a specific answer to the question – not a speech. If you give her a speech this Judge will shut you down.

On August 23, 2017, JO and Attorney Lewin appeared in Lynn District Court. The ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend were present as well. When the ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend began to make speeches in front of the Judge, the Judge cut them off and sternly warned them to answer her questions directly – not with speeches.

On July 22, 2014 AA, a 35 year old banker living in Somerville, was served with an Harassment Prevention Order that had been taken out by one of his roommates. The Somerville Police served the order at about 6:00 PM and instructed AA that he was to have no verbal contact with his roommate. At about 7:00 PM that same night AA was at home and his roommate came into the apartment. The roommate claimed that AA said to him “What’s with the restraining order?” The roommate called 911; the police responded; AA denied saying anything to the roommate. The police arrested AA and charged him with violating the order. AA retained Attorney Robert Lewin.
Attorney Lewin spoke with the DA’s Office. Ever since the Jared Remy case the Middlesex County DA’s Office has taken a hard line on all “domestic abuse” cases and they refuse to dismiss them. AA had a fear of trial and was extremely reluctant to try the case. Attorney Lewin encouraged AA to take the case to trial as Attorney Lewin felt it would be extremely difficult for the Commonwealth to get a conviction given the lack of any corroboration of the roommate’s claim.On September 12, 2014, at the pre-trial hearing the DA’s Office refused to dismiss the case. The case was set down for trial on November 4, 2014. In the week before November 4, 2014 Attorney Lewin and AA and a witness met twice to prepare the case for trial. AA was fully prepared to testify and he was fully prepared for cross examination. On November 4, 2014 AA and his witness and Attorney Lewin appeared at court and answered ready for trial when the case was called. The DA’s Office had to answer that they were not ready for trial as their witness (the roommate) had failed to appear. Attorney Lewin moved to dismiss the case and the judge ordered the case dismissed for lack of prosecution. The lesson in this is don’t be afraid to go to trial when you have a good case.

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.