How to handle an Injunction Hearing
The purpose of this Guide is to help breakdown and understand the process of an Injunction hearing. Injunctions are the product of a temporary restraining order being granted and then proceeding to a final hearing where exhibits, witnesses, and testimony are introduced before a Judge.
Filing for a Temporary Restraining OrderOften times people find themselves in situations where they are being harassed, stalked, abused, or otherwise in a situation where another individual is placing them in continuous physical or emotional harm.
Recourse for an individual in this particular situation is to seek a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"). A TRO is commences by filing a Petition and Summons. Those must then be served onto to alleged perpetrator. It is important to note that when completing the initial forms to be as detailed oriented as possible. Often times people leave out important facts from the initial pleadings only to later bring them up in Court. Sometimes Judge's do not allow additional factors to be considered that were not previously alleged.
Once Temporary Restraining Order is granted, and if it is granted, the Court will hold an Injunction hearing within 14 days of the same. That 14 day time period can be extended pursuant to Wis. Stat 813.125(3)(c), but requires written consent of both parties involved.
During the granting of the Temporary Restraining Order and the Injunction hearing that is scheduled it is important to gather all applicable evidence and prepare for trial. Walking into an Injunction hearing unprepared places you at a disadvantage. Having competent counsel assist you with this process is very helpful as they can navigate a courtroom and advocate for the individual
Injunction HearingYou have filed your Temporary Restraining Order and the Court has granted the same. The Court has scheduled your hearing/trial date. That hearing/trial date is what is called an Injunction Hearing.
The Injunction hearing is your chance to put on evidence, call witnesses, and even testify yourself as to facts that support the basis for your Temporary Restraining Order and to ultimately determine if a Judge will agree with your case in chief and rule in your favor.
The burden of proof for an Injunction Hearing is much lower than the typical criminal burden of proof. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the individual committed the alleged actions with 99.9999 certainty. In an Injunction hearing, you do not need to meet that burden. The burden for an Injunction hearing is called " reasonable grounds". Think of Reasonable grounds as more likely than not. In order words, if a Judge concludes that the evidence submitted translates to at least 50.00001% that the Respondent has engaged in the acts an Injunction may be entered.
It is important to note that every county handles Injunction Hearings differently. Depending on the jurisdiction you may have 30 minutes or may be given 2 hours for your hearing. Therefore, you may be limited to what is called presentation by an offer of proof rather than presentation by witnesses, testimony, and evidence. Jurisdictions that proceed with offer of proof make it more difficult for a pro se litigant to argue their case.
At a hearing where you are afforded to present exhibits, witnesses, and testimony it is crucial that you demonstrate to the Court the seriousness of the allegations presented and in a manner that makes sense. If you are scrambled in your delivery your case will be difficult for a Judge to follow. Furthermore, it is equally as important to understand the rules of evidence. If you walk into an Injunction hearing without counsel, and the opposing side has counsel, you could be in for a long day because an opposing attorney will know and understand the rules of evidence. This could translate to keeping evidence out, which could in turn be the ultimate factor for why you do not succeed in obtaining an Injunction.
If you are successful at a trial an injunction will be granted for up to 4 years. It is important that you request this duration in your Petition as a Judge cannot grant any additional time that was not initially alleged.
At the end of the day, navigating the Courtroom can be difficult. While a pro se (unrepresented) party can certainly file for a Temporary Restraining Order an proceed through the process by themselves, it is increasingly difficult to succeed at an Injunction hearing without counsel. It would be a good idea to at least seek out potential attorney's to assist with the same.