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Maine: Final Order of Protection Vacated where Prisoner Not Afforded Opportunity to be Heard

In December 2011, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court vacated a district court judgment granting an order of protection from abuse where the alleged abuser had advised the court that, because he was incarcerated, he would be unable, without a continuance or some form of accommodation, to participate in the hearing at which the protection-from-abuse order would be addressed.

On March 28, 2011, Liv Morrison sought a protection-from-abuse order against Shawn Sayer, who was then incarcerated at the York County Jail. The district court issued a temporary protective order three days later and then scheduled a hearing on the final protection-from-abuse order for April 8, 2011.

On April 6, 2011, Sayer advised the district court that he was incarcerated. He moved for a continuance of the final hearing; alternatively, he requested that the court make arrangements for him to appear or otherwise participate in the hearing. The district court denied Sayer's motion.

On appeal, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court held that Sayer's incarceration and the need to protect his rights by facilitating his participation in the final hearing, either in person or by a remote video or audio connection, demonstrated good cause to either grant a continuance or make some accommodation to afford Sayer an opportunity to be heard. Accordingly, it vacated the final protection order, but left the temporary order in place pending a subsequent hearing on the final order. See: Morrison v. Sayer, 2011 ME 136.

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Related legal case

Morrison v. Sayer