The Victim of domestic violence [V] is a 75-year-old disabled American veteran. He lives by himself in a single-family-home residential community.
He appeared at two animal control hearings against his neighbor [N] his neighbor’s wife and three of their friends. The hearings did not go well for them, and they blamed V. According to V, N, N’s wife and their friends began harassing and threatening V. They vandalized V’s yard and set off large fire crackers along V’s drive way. Fearing for his life, V filed for and obtained an elder adult or dependent adult abuse temporary restraining order against all five of his harassers pursuant to the Welfare and Institutions Code.
Upon hearing of the restraining order, N’s three friends disappeared and did not appear in court for determination of the restraining order. The trial court agreed with V that N and N’s wife were harassing him and put in place a one-year protective order.
During the year, although there were no physical demonstrations against V by N and/or N’s wife, V continued to feel threatened. If N saw V in his front yard, N would glare at him, or N would deliberately double park in front of V’s garage.
At the end of the year, V requested that the trial court renew the restraining order because V still did not fell safe with N and N’s wife close by. V based his request upon N’s previous behavior and threatening behavior recently.
The trial court judge told V he was not concerned with what had happened in the past, and asked V what had happened recently. The judge asked if V had “called the police to enforce the restraining order.” V stated that he had “called the police a number of times to enforce the restraining order and they had been out and spoke with N and N’s wife. Each time, for a brief period, there was improvement.”
The trial court judge said, “What I need from you are specific dates and specific contact as opposed to threatening, dirty looks, giving you the finger, screaming something at you. I need acts that would justify a renewal of the restraining order… [I]t’s hard to get a renewal and it’s hard to get enforcement unless there is a significant threat, a reasonable threat or an act of violence.”
V argued that there had been a drastic improvement since the restraining order was put in place and wanted to maintain it. He reasoned that if the order were removed, N and N’s wife would just return to their violent and threatening behavior.
The trial court rejected V’s concerns and determined V had insufficient cause to renew the restraining order.
V appealed arguing that he had stated a reasonable belief in future abuse that would the continuation of the restraining order.
The Appellate Court noted: Welfare and Institutions Code section 15657.03 provides: “These orders may be renewed upon the request of a party, either for five years or permanently, without a showing of any further abuse since the issuance of the original order, subject to termination or modification by further order of the court either on written stipulation filed with the court or on the motion of a party. The request for renewal may be brought at any time within the three months before the expiration of the order.
The protected party would have to demonstrate the initial order had proved ineffectual in halting the restrained party’s abusive conduct just to obtain an extension of that ineffectual order. Indeed, the fact a protective order has proved effective is a good reason for seeking its renewal.
The trial court should not look to whether the faulting party continues to violate the restraining order, but whether it is “more probable than not that there is a sufficient risk of future abuse to find the protected party’s apprehension is genuine and reasonable.”