By Danielle Silva
Scott Halverson received a guilty verdict on one of three similar counts, each a violation of a protective order occurring at different times.
Scott Halverson was accused of violating a family law restraining order three times between October 2018 and April 2019. The defense claimed that Mr. Halverson did not know he had a restraining order. Mr. Halverson allegedly believed the documents were related to a divorce he was filing at the time. The prosecution claimed that Mr. Halverson was aware of the protective order but continued to make contact.
According to several jury members following the verdict, the process of issuing the document was unclear to them. Mr. Halverson, being aware of the restraining order was important for all three counts, but he also needed to understand what the restraining order was. They found the third count of violating a protective order to be true as the defendant, at that point, must have understood he had a restraining order. The first two counts, however, led to mixed opinions, as the evidence did not explain the process of issuing a restraining order.
One juror noted they weren’t aware if the defendant was simply informed of the restraining order in court by verbal agreement and he needed to get documentation himself, or if the defendant received a copy of the restraining order in court.
Another juror pointed out that Mr. Halverson was asked to return to court at 1:30 p.m. for a hearing, but they weren’t aware why he was called back.
‘Easy’ Domestic Violence Case Gets Complicated
By Julie Maruskin
This week a man was on trial for allegedly violating a “no contact” restraining order which his defense argued alleged was improperly served on him.
The defendant, Mr. Scott Halverson, pleaded “not guilty” to violating a family law restraining order. The prosecution argued he had violated Penal Code section 273.6 (intentional and knowing violation of a protective order) on three different occasions over the course of October 2018 to April 2019, however his defense claimed that he had no knowledge that the restraining order was put into place until April 8, 2019. The alleged victim claimed she had been married to the defendant for 18 years before she left the marriage. After the divorce, she filed for a restraining order because she claimed that he had been abusive within their relationship.
The prosecuting attorney introduced her closing argument, stating that this case was “easy.” She argued that a court-issued protective order was put into place and that Mr. Halverson violated this order on three different occasions. In her argument, she claimed that she only had five elements to prove. She had to prove that the court issued a lawful written order, that the court order was a protective order, that the defendant knew of the order, that he had the ability to follow the order, and lastly that the defendant willfully violated the court order.
The prosecutor defended the claim that the court issued a lawful written order by showing evidence that the written order was filed in Yolo County Superior Court. On that same evidence, it showed that the court order was a restraining order, which meant that it was a protective order. The prosecutor said that the defendant knew of the restraining order because he was issued the temporary restraining order, which was granted by the court on September 21, 2018, and served to Mr. Halverson on October 9 of the same year. After knowing that he had a temporary restraining order, he sent flowers to the alleged victims’ daughter. The prosecuting attorney also argued that he was also present in court on October 12, when the restraining order was served, as the documentation accounted for. She even made the statement that Mr. Halverson was told verbally by Officer Fair that he was in violation of the restraining order after sending the flowers.
In response to his ability to follow the order, the prosecutor argued that he was not on a cross country flight where he was stuck with the alleged victim – he lived in a whole different city. She emphasized that he made the effort to contact her even though it was not necessary. She also argued that he willingly violated the court order because, even after he verbally attested that he did have knowledge of the restraining order after talking to Officer Fair, he still continued to contact the alleged victim and the alleged victim’s daughter from October until April.
The defending attorney started his closing argument claiming that the case was “far from easy.” He reminded the jury that Mr. Halverson should be presumed innocent, and that if he is proven guilty there should be proof beyond a reasonable doubt to support that claim.
The defense attorney argued against the fact that the court order was “lawfully” issued. He argued that the order was not lawfully issued because the defendant did not have knowledge of the order. When Mr. Halverson received the notice to appear in court, he believed that the written statement to appear in court was related to the divorce proceeding, since he had just been going through divorce with the alleged victim. The defense attorney claimed that the notice could be categorized as a declaration of non-service because it was not served within the time of the local rules. The defense attorney pointed out that Mr. Halverson had called the office clerk to check to see if there was a restraining order on file. The office clerk, Ms. Mendoza, testified that she had made the mistake of telling Mr. Halverson that nothing was on file, as she could not see what was on file because the restraining order was temporary. The defense attorney then argued that, in the testimony of Officer Fair, she had thought that the restraining order was dismissed. She had testified that on her system there was a restraining order and she did not give Mr. Halverson any information about the order, she just told him that he was violating it. She had access to the order and the defense made the point that she did not tell him whether the order was a peaceful order, a no harassment order, or if it was a no contact order. When he sent the flowers, the flowers had a note that read “be kind” in reference to the divorce proceedings, which the defense considered a “peaceful” act.
The defense attorney re-explained that when the case was heard by a judge for the restraining order, the court went into recess because Mr. Halverson was “feeling ill.” This was reported in the court transcription. Mr. Halverson was told to return at 1:30 p.m. and claimed that no one was there when he returned. In the minute order, it said that the parties were present in the morning and not present in the afternoon, however at 11:39 a.m. the restraining order was uploaded to the court records archive. The defense attorney argued that in order for the defendant to know of the order he should have been able to review the terms. The defense argued that Mr. Halverson could not review the terms if he was not present in court. The defense also made the claim that the alleged victim said that four women from the Women’s Self Help resource helped file the restraining order, however, they did not testify to doing so. Hence, there was no evidence that anyone was present to hear that the restraining order was granted. The defense attorney also brought up information about how the alleged victim had previously filed a restraining order on her last ex-husband, and that she stole $25,000 from Mr. Halverson’s mother before divorcing him. This information was brought up to demonstrate that the alleged victim, who was also the first witness, provided untrustworthy testimony, and he explained that she could be lying about the Women’s Self Help resource.
The defense argued that in April, Mr. Halverson finally had knowledge of the restraining order being a “no contact” restraining order, and he ceased in his attempts to contact the alleged victim. This is proved by a voicemail Mr. Halverson left to the alleged victim on that date that said, “You’re right, I just called. There is a restraining order.” He said that he “did not know” and that “he just called.”
The defense concluded by stating that the evidence the prosecution provided as a court-issued document was a DV-100 form, which is not a court-issued document because it states that “this is not a court order” on the bottom of the document. The defending attorney reminded the jury that the case was, in fact, not “easy” and the prosecution provided no evidence that was credible enough to find the defendant guilty. The defense concluded that two of the five elements the prosecution had to prove were not proved without doubt.