Story of Justice: Maria Fears for Her Life
Maria* dated Cody* for four years, enduring severe physical abuse throughout their relationship. Eventually, Maria realized that it was not safe for her to be around Cody and ended the relationship. After ending the relationship, Cody showed up unannounced at Maria’s workplace. Upon seeing her talking to a customer, Cody became angry and demanded that Maria tell the customer to leave. As Maria pleaded with Cody to calm down, he screamed at her, punched her in the stomach, and left the scene before the police arrived.
The next day, Cody convinced Maria to meet him in the parking lot at a nearby department store so she could return his personal belongings. Cody assured Maria that there would be security cameras in the parking lot so she would be safe. When Maria arrived at the parking lot, it was empty and quiet. Cody asked her to get into his vehicle so they could talk about what happened the day before. Maria reluctantly got into his vehicle, but soon realized that he did not want to talk about the incident but rather argue about it. She tried to open the door of the vehicle to leave but he locked her inside of the car. When she asked him again to let her out of the car, Cody pulled out a knife, pressed it to her thigh, and told her he would slit her throat if she tried to leave the vehicle again. For the next few hours, Maria waited in fear. When Cody finally fell asleep, she exited the vehicle and escaped from the parking lot before Cody realized she was gone.
Maria went straight to the courthouse to file a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence. She was granted a Temporary Injunction and reached out to Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida (CCLA) for representation at her final evidentiary hearing. CCLA worked extensively with Maria to prepare for the final hearing. CCLA uploaded photos of her injuries to the Court’s system, subpoenaed the officer who responded to the incident at Maria’s place of employment, and also held virtual practice hearings. Finally, CCLA proceeded to a final evidentiary hearing.
At the final evidentiary hearing, the Judge did not want to proceed because Cody was not present. CCLA argued that Cody was properly served and had notice of the court proceedings, so it would not be a violation of his due process rights to proceed with a hearing. The Judge heard the arguments and conducted a final evidentiary hearing on Maria’s Petition for Injunction for Protection. The Judge found Maria’s testimony and the evidence credible. Ultimately, the Judge granted Maria a Final Judgment of Injunction for Protection Against Dating Violence until further order of the Court.
Why it Matters
Maria was grateful to receive the Court’s protection. Maria was also thankful to CCLA for the guidance and legal representation throughout this difficult time in her life. She finally felt safe and at peace knowing that Cody could not harm her anymore.
*Names and images have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients
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