I hate you permanently not

Posted on December 20th, 2006, by Dmitry Lev

Another piece of the 209A saga and judicial wisdom (please apply sarcasm as you see fit) has been brought to us by the Chelsea District Court. Here, a judge decided that he would issue a permanent 209A order at the 10 day hearing. Not surprisingly, the Court of Appeals disagreed, noting that under the statute, the maximum length of time allowed for an order issued at the 10-day hearing is one year. Shorter is okay, longer is not. Accordingly, the permanent order was vacated.

What’s most surprising about this incident are the actions of the District Court judge. While other 209A matters at times rest on more subjective issues, like the judge’s finding of facts or placing credibility with one side’s testimony versus another, here the issue is one of clear black letter law and its application.

“Any relief granted by the court shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed one year. Every order shall on its face state the time and date the order is to expire and shall include the date and time that the matter will again be heard. If the plaintiff appears at the court at the date and time the order is to expire, the court shall determine whether or not to extend the order for any additional time reasonably necessary to protect the plaintiff or to enter a permanent order.” MGL Ch 209A, Sec 3.

Seems rather straightforward. The case was an unpublished Massachusetts Court of Appeals matter, Docket No. 2005-P-1760 (October 23, 2006), Scholwin v. Scholwin.