from the Lake Circuit Court The Honorable Michael A. Sarafin,
Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 45C01-1602-PO-36
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Mark A. Bates Schererville, Indiana
APPELLEE, PRO SE C.R.
of the Case
C.V. appeals the trial court's issuance of a protective
order against him in favor of C.R. He argues that the trial
court erred because C.R. did not produce sufficient evidence
that he stalked her and, therefore, that a protective order
was warranted. We agree and reverse the trial court's
decision. We remand with instructions to vacate the
protective order against C.V.
We reverse and remand with instructions.
there was sufficient evidence to support the trial
court's issuance of a protective order against C.V.
In July of 2015, C.R. found a note on her car outside of her
workplace at the Department of Veterans Affairs
("V.A."). The note "was basically saying
things about [her] physical attributes." (Tr. 36). She
was able to identify the author as a Marine due to a
reference in the note to "Semper-Fi, " but the note
did not otherwise contain any identifying information. (Tr.
38). Two weeks later, C.R. found a second note on her car
that "said about the same type of thing" as the
first note and again lacked any identifying information. (Tr.
37). She filed a report about the note with the V.A. Police,
and the police asked her whether she had seen any patients
who could have left the notes. She reviewed her patients but
could not determine who might have left them.
Seven months later, C.R. found a third note on her car at
work. It was "the same type of note, " only "a
little bit more kinky." (Tr. 37-38). On another day, she
then found a fourth note on her car. After this note, C.R.
was able to match the dates on which she had found the four
notes with dates that C.V. had visited the V.A. as a patient.
She forwarded this information to the officer investigating
the notes, and he then confirmed that C.V. had placed the
note on C.R.'s car when he reviewed the V.A.'s
parking lot surveillance camera footage. This officer,
Jeffrey Trama ("Officer Trama"), called C.V., and
C.V. admitted that he had left the notes. Officer Trama told
C.V. to stop leaving the notes, and C.V. did so.
C.R. did not press criminal charges against C.V., but she
filed a pro se petition for an ex parte protective order
against him on February 19, 2016. The trial court granted
C.R.'s petition on February 22, 2016 and issued the ex
parte protective order. However, on March 7, 2016, C.V.
requested a hearing on the protective order, and the trial
court held a hearing on April 6, 2016.
At the hearing, C.R. appeared pro se, and C.V. appeared
represented by counsel. The trial court asked C.R. if she
would like to continue the hearing so that she could retain
an attorney, and she declined the trial court's offer.
The trial court then told C.R.: "All right; well,
ma'am, if you proceed to represent yourself, you
understand that the rules of evidence apply. Counsel may
interpose objections based on those rules of evidence[, ] and
you may not be fully trained or versed ...