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Is There A New Law About Continuing an EPO or DVO Hearing?

Yes. While there is no new legislation, the Court of Appeals recently issued a decision that severely limits the rights of the trial court to continue a hearing regarding a DVO/EPO. In the recent published opinion, 2009-CA-001993-ME JOHN STEPHEN TELEK v. SAMANTHA DAUGHERTY, the court heard an appeal from Kenton Family Court wherein the Defendant asked for a continuance then later asked the court to dismiss the case because he claimed they lacked jurisdiction because they should not have granted the continuance. While it seems to this writer that the attorney had a lot of gall to ask that it be dismissed for granting a continuance after asking for the continuance, nevertheless the Court of Appeals agreed with the appellant/defendant and said that the trial Court has no jurisdiction. The Appeals Court stated that due to the construction of the statute, the trial Court can only continue a DV hearing if the request is made due to the Defendant not having been served with the EPO and notice of the hearing. While this ruling makes little practical sense, the Court of Appeals may have gotten this correct pursuant to the strict construction of the language of the statute. While practitioners hope that the legislature will correct this statute, the Courts are taking the position that until correct, they must have the hearing within the prescribed 14 days, regardless of the reason for a delay. This is important to the Plaintiff/Petitioner/victim/person filing as well as to the Defendant/Respondent/accused. The Defendant will likely not be granted a continuance to seek legal counsel or to identify and subpoena witnesses. As such, anyone intending to mount a defense should contact legal counsel IMMEDIATELY after being served with an EPO. Similarly, the person filing an EPO should consult with legal counsel or an abuse therapist in their area prior to filing and/or appearing in court. The quick turn around time which is intended to assure a Defendant prompt legal attention and assure the right to a hearing, also puts constraints on the ability to prepare an adequate defense. If you have been charged with domestic violence or have received an Emergency Protective Order, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. In Northern Kentucky, you may contact Michael Bouldin at [email protected] or 859-581-MIKE (6453). Know your rights!

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