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.