APPEAL FROM THE PORTER SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Julia M. Jent, Judge. Cause No. 64D03-1403-PO-1780.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: C. ANTHONY ASHFORD, Ashford Law Group. P.C., Chesterton, Indiana.
BARNES, Judge. MAY, J., and PYLE, J., concur.
J.K. appeals the trial court's entry of a protective order against him. We reverse.
J.K. raises two issues. We address only whether there is sufficient evidence to support the issuance of the protective order.
J.K. was married to T.C. On December 10, 2007, T.C. told J.K. that she wanted a divorce. J.K. responded by choking T.C. with his forearm, hurting T.C.'s neck and causing her to fear for her life. There is no evidence J.K. was charged with a crime for this incident. There is no evidence of any other incidents of domestic or other violence or threats by J.K., or any contact at all between J.K. and T.C. since 2008. The parties, who have no children together, were divorced in 2008 and continue to live two doors away from each other in the same townhouse community in Chesteron.
On December 10, 2007, the trial court entered a protective order against J.K. that expired on December 9, 2009. On December 10, 2009, T.C. filed for a second protective order against J.K., which the trial court granted on January 8, 2010, and which expired on December 10, 2011. On December 12, 2011, T.C. filed for a third protective order against J.K., which the trial court granted on February 6, 2012, and which expired on February 3, 2014.
On March 4, 2014, T.C. filed for a fourth protective order against J.K. The trial court entered an ex parte protective order that same day, prohibiting J.K. from contacting or coming near T.C., including prohibiting him from going to a K-Mart store in Chesterton and Chesterton High School. J.K. timely moved for a hearing challenging this ex parte order.
The trial court conducted a hearing on May 8, 2014. In response to J.K.'s counsel's statement that the protective order was no longer necessary, the trial court stated, " Oh, you know, you have a lot of proving to do to tell me it's unnecessary since it's been necessary since what, '07?" Tr. p. 2. The trial court also noted that the original protective order was not challenged and said, " The original basis is still there counsel. Look at the statute. There is no statute of limitations. If it happened ten years ago we can issue it still. Okay? . . . Where they choose to live is up to them but the reason there's been no issues I would think is because there's been an order." Id. at 2-3. The trial court then asked T.C. whether she still believed a protective order was necessary, and she responded, " [a]bsolutely," without elaborating. Id. at 3. The trial court did not provide J.K. with an opportunity to cross-examine T.C. or present evidence on his own behalf. The trial court also stated its belief that, " there's no limit on how often this can be re-issued." ...