This story…I could not make up!
A neighbor receives a knock on his door one evening. As the door is opened the neighbor is greeted by a Fulton County Marshall. He was handed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) that was filed by a next door neighbor. By next door, I mean literally a few doors down from his on the same floor of the building. If you are not familiar, TRO’s are designed to prevent one person from coming within a certain distance of another individual.
How in the world is this guy supposed to prevent himself from coming within a few feet, if not inches, when the person who requested the TRO lives on the same floor just feet away? Is he expected to leave his home and wife in order to prevent himself from coming into contact with the person who requested the TRO? What are the options?
My suggestions were: 1) Find an attorney, 2) use a smart phone and video your every move when in the common areas (hallway) of your floor, 3) do not acknowledge the other individual whatsoever if you happen upon her or her upon you, and 4) continue to live in your home as positively as possible.
The guy who was served the TRO is a married professional who has volunteered in our association over the years and, to my knowledge, has never threatened or been abusive to any individual in our community. He seems to be fairly liked by most people he comes into contact with.
This was a bizarre situation…
After contacting an attorney and conducting some research a few facts were uncovered. The person who requested the TRO, let’s call her “Bambi”, apparently pitched a fit at the courthouse to the point that they went ahead and signed off on her request in an effort to get her to “go away”.
Bambi claimed that this guy was a threat to her well-being and she was afraid to live in her home with him so close by. She did not claim that she had ever been physically touched by my friend or harmed in any way. She was afraid that he might loose it and harm her. Heck, I know several people who live near me who might loose it some day. You do not see me running out to obtain TROs against them.
The neighbor informed me that a few years ago Bambi asked him to visit her condo to help hang a picture. He made a smart move at that time by making sure his wife accompanied him. I think he received a “vibe” about Bambi… It is always good to follow one’s intuition. Personally, Bambi has been a building neighbor for several years and not a person that I have ever chosen to really engage with. She seems a little “off” to me too.
The TRO listed a court date for Bambi and my neighbor to appear. In the interim the attorney advised him to obtain character witnesses who could appear in court or who would provide him a character reference Affidavit. When asked to appear, I agreed without hesitation.
On the day of the Hearing there was a group of about 10 friends and neighbors who accompanied my neighbor to the courtroom. In addition he had many Affidavits in support of his character. In contrast, Bambi had two other women with her. One was another floor mate of my neighbor (Gees, what a party floor he lives on!) and the other lady was a former resident of our building.
Anne and I actually experienced an evening out with the former resident who showed up in support of Bambi. We accompanied her and some others to a Chef’s Table dinner at an area restaurant. It was a strange evening as the former resident literally spent hours on the floor of the women’s restroom at the restaurant. I have no idea what her problem was but she did not want medical care nor did she want a ride home. I am serious; she laid on that bathroom floor for over an hour. Had I not witnessed her on the floor with my own two eyes – I probably would not believe it. Needless to say, Anne and I never went to dinner with her again.
If you have never been to a court proceeding regarding TRO’s, do not bother. Stories of human behavior can be depressing. While listening to the various cases it became clear to me that Bambi was really stretching things. You see, the cases heard that morning involved domestic disputes, men beating/attacking their girlfriends or wives and vice versa – situations of true abuse. Real physical violence by people in actual relationships – not neighbors down a hall from each other!
I heard stories of abuse, not stories of someone “only feeling unsafe, threatened or concerned a neighbor might loose it”. It was a quick education about the state of some in our society.
Eventually the Judge calls Bambi’s case and directed the parties involved to sit at the appropriate tables – plaintiff and defendant. It is Bambi’s responsibility to prove that she has been threatened or harmed by my friend – her immediate neighbor.
Bambi presented her case…I do not remember all the babbling that she did and trust me, it was babble. However, one situation that she mentioned I found humorous. She testified that on one occasion my friend “pounded on her wall as he walked down the hall”. Now, we are talking about a solid wall – no windows and no transparency whatsoever. The Judge asked her if she witnessed him pounding on the wall and her reply was something like “No, but it had to be him.” The Judge dismissed her comments. If only Judge Judy had presided over this…oh, man!
None of the other cases I listened to in the courtroom that morning came close to the situation Bambi was presenting. It was beyond me as to how the system allowed her TRO to be filed. She must have pitched a real fit and the Judge who signed off on the TRO must have really, really wanted her to go away.
My friend’s attorney was fun to watch. She “turned it on” once the Judge finished listening to Bambi’s presentation. She questioned Bambi about some of her testimony. Bambi’s responses seemed unfavorable to the Judge. At least that was my read of the Judge’s facial expressions.
Bambi became frustrated and nervous by this “cross-examination” conducted by the attorney. Bambi probably thought my friend would represent himself and not arrive to court with legal counsel. I am glad he hired a professional as I enjoyed the show and he did not have to utter a single word. Bambi babbled and he was silent.
Eventually the Judge interrupted and stated that she had heard enough. I remember her words well. “This is a total misuse of the system! Ms. Bambi, your case is dismissed.” To my surprise Bambi continued to speak or plead with the Judge. The Judge again responded “Ms. Bambi this case is dismissed. You may leave the courtroom.” At that moment my friend, at the prompting of his attorney, stood up and left. Bambi was still mumbling something to the Judge. I also got up and left.
Final advice from the attorney to my friend – do not speak to Bambi or the other two women who arrived to court in her support unless there is a witness to the conversation. To this day, he is very cautious when they are around and he certainly rarely, if at all, acknowledges them. Too bad but that is the reality.
My friend learned that he had much support and some genuine friends/neighbors who cared about him and his wife. The situation was surreal but the affirmation of some genuine friendships probably added something positive to a negative situation in the end.
I wonder if Bambi ever finds herself in a position to really need a TRO if she will obtain one as easily…then again, who cares.