Validity of Order of Protection Challenged in Knoxville, Tennessee: Frontz v. Hall

June 20, 2022 K.O. Herston 0 Comments

Facts: Woman sought and obtained an ex parte order of protection against Man. At the hearing 10 days later, Man’s first attorney asked that the hearing be postponed until Man’s pending criminal charge was resolved. The trial court granted the request and entered a bridging order extending the order of protection until a hearing the following month.

Days before the hearing the following month, Man’s criminal charge was dismissed. At the hearing, all agreed to continue the case for an additional two months, and another bridging order was entered.

Shortly thereafter, Man discharged his attorney and, continuing pro se, filed a series of questionable motions and discovery requests. Woman responded with a motion for a protective order and a request to continue the hearing again to give her time to respond to Man’s discovery requests. Man responded to that motion by attaching a copy of a complaint he filed against Woman in another court seeking money damages for malicious prosecution, defamation, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Shortly after that, both parties hired new counsel. The day before the scheduled hearing, counsel for both parties agreed to continue the hearing. Another bridging order was entered extending the ex parte order of protection to a date “to be determined by counsel.” Because of the expected length of the hearing, the lawyers were directed to work with the Court’s assistant to schedule a date for the hearing.

Man’s second lawyer withdrew shortly thereafter, and the order granting the withdrawal said it would not delay any discovery deadlines or the trial.

Man then filed another series of ill-considered motions.

Woman moved for criminal contempt, alleging seven violations of the order of protection. Specifically, she alleged Man sent her several emails stating things such as:

  • “You keep seeing people change everything because of me. The world changes when I get angry. Why is it so difficult? … How many more people should I destroy before you finally get it?”
  • “For you I will destroy world. No one will ever harm you or they will know wrath. Fuck your attorneys. Fuck everyone. … Stop listening to [your attorney]. I make judges. I destroyed judges. [Your attorney] sold you on lies. He was never anything. I have much more power and control than he will ever have.”

Woman also alleged that Man sent emails to Woman’s attorney that said, “I have people watching. And I intentionally violated the order [of protection] to forewarn her. As long as she safe. You can send me to jail. … I will burn this world if someone hurts her.”

After his written confessions to Woman and her attorney, Man hired his third attorney.

When the case was tried the following month, Man was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of violating the ex parte order of protection five times. He was sentenced to serve 50 days in jail, a one-year order of protection was entered, and Woman was awarded attorney’s fees of $77,525.75.

Man appealed.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

Tennessee law requires that all orders of protection are effective for a fixed period, i.e., one, five, or ten years, and sometimes for life.

Man argued the last bridging order was void because the extension until a date “to be determined by counsel” makes it a permanent, open-ended order of protection.

The Court made quick work of this argument:

[Man] did not raise this objection with the trial court. There is no indication in the record that he ever argued that the bridging order was void for any reason. The jurisdiction of this Court is “appellate only,” and appellate jurisdiction necessarily implies that the issue has been formulated and passed upon by the trial court. Consequently, under Tennessee law, issues raised for the first time on appeal are waived.

Moreover, the trial court entered several orders expressly memorializing and noting [Man’s] agreement to the extensions of time and bridging orders. … [Man’s] agreement and acquiescence to the entry of the bridging orders is thus well documented and established in the technical record.

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[T]here is no problem with the parties agreeing to extend the time for an ex parte protective order. [I]n this case the trial court did not fail to meet the time requirements imposed by the applicable statutory scheme, nor did the court act in any dilatory way at all.

The Court affirmed the trial court’s granting of the requested order of protection, the award of attorney’s fees, and awarded Woman her attorney’s fees incurred on appeal.

Frontz v. Hall (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Eastern Section, June 15, 2022).

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Validity of Order of Protection Challenged in Knoxville, Tennessee: Frontz v. Hall was last modified: June 21st, 2022 by K.O. Herston

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