Angela's first, temporary restraining order against me. It was in effect from Nov - Dec 2008. A four year injunction was issued in Dec 2008 and renewed, after a brief gap, in Jan 2013. It expired in Jan 2017.
In other words this was a "no means no" type of restraining order. Angela was saying that "no means no"--reasonable--but also saying she somehow needed the courts to enforce this--not so reasonable in my view. In particular it wasn't even claimed that I'd in any way refused to accept her "no" to any sexual advance I might have made.
It took a total of three restraining order hearings to resolve the case. At the first restraining order hearing, I successfully motioned for a continuance on the grounds that the petition had been served late on me. It had in fact been served late, and the matter was continued for two weeks.
At the second restraining order hearing, I attempted to get the matter dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. Angela and I once lived in the same state, but have since moved away to different states, so there are three different states involved: my current state, her current state, and the past state where we both lived. Angela filed the restraining order in her current state of residence. I attempted to argue that Angela's allegations--whether true or false--had little to do with her current state, and the matter would more appropriately be heard either in my current state of residence or the past state where we both lived. Despite the fact that Wisconsin law at the time didn't allow jurisdiction for out of state respondents, Angela was given ten days to provide proof of Wisconsin residence. She apparently was able to do so, and a third restraining order hearing was scheduled.
Technically no restraining order was in effect between the second and the third hearings, as the existing temporary order could not be extended further.
At the third and final restraining order hearing, Angela and I were the second of two couples scheduled for restraining order hearings that afternoon. The first couple's hearing was at 1:30pm followed by ours at 2:00pm--giving a sense that the court allowed about a half hour for such hearings. The judge started the hearing by saying he was denying my motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds. The judge then swore both of us--Angela as petitioner and myself as defendant--in as witnesses. And there is where I fear that I may have made my first mistake being unfamiliar with the law--although I cannot be sure for exactly the same reason (I am unfamiliar with the law). In agreeing without questioning it to be sworn in as a witness, I was perhaps foolishly forgoing my Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination. Angela clearly hoped to pursue not just a restraining order against me but also she wanted to pursue criminal charges. I do not believe I ever did anything that rose to the level of a criminal offense. And Angela never made any headway whatsoever--either before or after the hearing--in pursuing criminal charges against me. Yet the threat made me nervous especially given that I had no legal representation. I do not believe I committed a crime but without legal counsel to advise me on how to approach testifying I was quite nervous about suddenly being thrust by the judge into a position of testifying.
The judge then questioned Angela about why she was seeking a restraining order against me. She reiterated essentially the same claims she had made in her written petition. The judge allowed her to gloss over the part of her petition where she alleged that I had commented inappropriately on the subject of her breasts. Notably, however, he did ask her to testify as to her current place of residence--bear in mind that I had previously challenged the petition on jurisdictional grounds.
Next the judge questioned me as to Angela's allegations. This is where I may have made my second mistake. Because I didn't know what might or might not have placed me at risk of criminal prosecution, I answered the questions truthfully--but in as noncommittal a way as possible. As such I probably didn't make a very good impression as a witness--I probably seemed rather evasive. I would have benefited from either taking the Fifth or discussing with an attorney how best to present my side of the story without exposing myself to greater legal risk.
The final stage of the hearing was when the judge allowed me to directly question (cross examine) Angela as to her allegations. I had not been expecting this--indeed I had expected the hearing to already be dismissed by this point on jurisdictional grounds--and was not prepared for how best to question her. Moreover, I was embarrassed both for myself and for Angela about the intimate nature of her allegations, involving discussions of her breasts and my comments on them. I was not prepared emotionally to have a discussion on such matters in an open courtroom. As such, I asked Angela only one rather weak question and let it go at that.
I should say that there is some truth to some of the allegations that Angela made in her petition. However, she often didn't tell the full story, suggesting that any advances I might have made were completely unwelcome, whereas in fact she was often at least somewhat receptive. Had I been prepared to properly cross examine her, I would have asked her--for example--why when she claimed that my phone calls to her were unwelcome in her petition, she always called me back and adopted a friendly tone of voice. I do not know what the outcome would have been had I done so. However because of my embarrassment about the intimate nature of some of her allegations, I never properly cross examined her. As such, Angela's claims were accepted at face value and the restraining order was put into effect.
As I noted earlier, my main purpose in writing this is to explain what happens at a restraining order hearing--at least at mine--to offer some clues as to how a future defendant might be better prepared than I was. I am not a lawyer and, of course, the best bet is to hire a lawyer--but if legal representation is not an option understanding as much about the process in advance seems to me to be the next best bet.