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Schmidt v. Coons

posted Aug 9, 2012, 3:38 PM by Kevin Morrison   [ updated Aug 9, 2012, 3:38 PM ]

Disclaimer: I am biased as to this result. One of the last cases I worked on at Brandt Criminal Defense before starting Wainberg Morrison was this appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.  While I am not the attorney of record, I contributed heavily to the final product. 

The Schmidt v. Coons appeal concerned Minnesota Statute § 518B.01 and whether an Order for Protection (OFP) could be issued when the adult victim was not the petitioner.  Yesterday the opinion was released and the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of limiting orders for protection to victims of domestic abuse.  The Court’s reasoning behind the decision to reverse was based on the overall intent of the legislation to protect the victims of domestic abuse.  I believe this was the correct legal decision, but more importantly I believe this decision makes tons of practical sense.

The reason this decision makes practical sense is because the decision does not prevent anyone who needs protection from getting it.  This is because the definition of domestic abuse includes the fear of harm.  So a victim of domestic abuse is any person who has been harmed or is afraid of being harmed by a family member.  This leaves one category of person, non-victims, who have neither been harmed, nor put in fear of harm, by a family member.  Basically, non-victims are people who do not need protection from their family.  *

*The notable exception to this would be people who are as yet unhurt and unafraid of being hurt due to an inability to understand the danger.  I.e. an infant.  However, there are legal provisions for protecting vulnerable adults and Minn. Stat. § 518B.01 provides an explicit exception for filing on behalf of minors.