Stalking Protective Order Litigation Eugene, Oregon, Arnold Law Office, LLC, Attorneys at Law

Stalking Protective Orders in Oregon

Preventing Abuse: Balancing stalking orders against abuse of the judicial system

In Oregon, a stalking protective order (SPO) may be obtained when a person is subjected to repeated and unwanted contact that coerces them or causes reasonable apprehension regarding personal safety. Stalking orders are a vital tool in preventing abuse and protecting persons, particularly women, from contact that reasonably places them in fear for their own safety.

These unwanted contacts can include crimes committed by a party, such as assault or physical harassment, following or waiting for a person outside their work, school, or home, or making legitimate threats of serious and imminent personal violence.

[“Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” - Wigmore]

[“Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” – Wigmore]

To obtain a stalking order a party can fill out a petition form to be presented before a judge ex parte (without the other party being notified). This allows a safe avenue for a person to obtain a protective order.

Unfortunately, this uncontested scenario is ripe for abuse. To obtain a stalking order all a person has to do is fill out a form alleging two or more alarming contacts. Although the petition is signed under penalty of perjury and the respondent is entitled to a hearing, there are immediate consequences to the respondent regardless of the final outcome. First, there is a court finding of probable cause that the respondent is a stalker. Second, collateral consequences often occur with employment. Many employers don’t want to retain an employee that has been found by the court to be a stalker. Third, it immediately affects a person’s right to carry a concealed firearm.

In Lane County, Oregon there is a culture of people who abuse stalking orders, using them as a tool to aid in an uncomfortable yet non-threatening breakup (e.g., lovesick telephone calls), to get even with a neighbor or a boyfriend’s ex, or to gain advantage in a custody case. This sort of abuse undermines the legitimate stalking claims. Fortunately, stalking orders are civil matters that afford considerable opportunities for preparing for trial and defending against frivolous claims (respondent’s request that the petitioner pay attorney fees, depositions, requests for production, etc.).

Our attorneys have tried many stalking order cases in court and have argued stalking order case law before the Oregon Court of Appeals. Stalking orders require a specific knowledge of the relevant Oregon cases, particularly those cases involving protected speech (State v. Rangel and its progeny).

Terminating the “Permanent” Stalking Protective Order

The Oregon Court of Appeals decided Edwards v. Biehler in 2005. Because of this opinion, respondents subject to stalking orders of unlimited duration can now file a motion to terminate. Stalking Orders can be terminated if the court finds that the criteria for issuing the order are no longer present, because the petitioner no longer continues to suffer “reasonable apprehension” due to the past acts.

This is a very important Oregon stalking case. Before this case, permanent stalking orders were often worse than most criminal convictions, since many criminal convictions can be expunged after three years. Clients would pour substantial sums of money into fighting these cases, because they didn’t want to forever be known as a stalker. Now this option is available if respondents lose.

Sealing or “Expunging” the Dismissed Stalking Order

Attorney Mike Arnold pioneered the sealing of stalking order files in Oregon, effectively causing the court to expunge the records. Arnold created a motion arguing that it was within the inherent power of the court to expunge these cases.

Our attorneys have had success sealing stalking order records in several Oregon counties, such as Lane County and Multnomah County. In Lane County alone our firm has effectively expunged dozens of stalking order files for clients who have been wrongly accused of stalking. However, recently a Lane County judge denied an unopposed motion to seal the stalking order file. This case went up on appeal in Cox v. M.A.L. with the Court of Appeals affirming the denial of the “expungement.” However, the opinion left open the door to future arguments that the court has the inherent authority to seal stalking files. In particular, future cases need to be based on why sealing an SPO file is necessary to enable the courts to perform their judicial functions. Following, Cox v. M.A.L., our firm has successfully made that argument in other counties by effectively raising the constitutional right to privacy.

Stalking Order Case Summaries

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  • Representative Cases

    STALKING ORDERS AND RESTRAINING ORDERS

    Wrongful Use of Civil Proceedings - False Stalking Order to Gain Custody

    Received a $50,000 judgment through bankruptcy adversarial proceeding due to mother lying to get a stalking order.

    Restraining Order - Lying about Fear to Gain Custody

    Mother lied about being afraid of father. She dismissed it after being cross-examined and confronted with dozens of text messages she sent to father.

    Stalking Order - Lying about Rape to Gain Custody

    We won a dismissal after trial. Court made findings of fact that stalking order was brought for an improper purpose.

    Sexual Harassment - Setting up co-worker for a sexual harassment lawsuit

    Negotiated a dismissal and a mutual no-contact agreement after discovering that petitioner made similar allegations against another employer in California.

    Stalking - Young woman files after older man stops buying her things

    Young woman lied about stalking incidents to gain a stalking order to spite her much older friend who bought her car, surgery, etc. Petitioner lied to the court; the firm proved the lies in trial and case dismissed.

    Stalking Order – Dismissed

    Mother obtained stalking order on Father to keep him from seeing his child for weeks. We were able to demonstrate motives for obtaining a stalking order to gain advantage in a custody case to keep child from Father. After Mother put on her case and she and her witnesses were cross-examined, judge dismissed the order without requiring any evidence or testimony from Father at all.

    Restraining Order – Upheld with Attorney Fee Award

    Husband took Restraining Order out on Wife after she applied for one to protect herself from him. After a hearing on both orders, Wife’s Order was upheld, Husband’s Order dismissed, and Husband ordered to pay all attorney fees for the firm’s time on the case.