Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/03/2003 09:12 AM Senate JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 1-STALKING & PROTECTIVE ORDERS CHAIR SEEKINS announced HB 1, version \H, to be up for consideration. REPRESENTATIVE CHERYL HEINZE, sponsor of HB 1, said it closes a dangerous loophole in the Alaska statutes by allowing the victims of stalking, the security of a judicial protective order. Any person who believes he is a victim of stalking not related to domestic violence may file a petition in the district or Superior Court and receive a stalking protective order. Under current law, protection to a stalking victim is only associated with domestic violence cases. This bill also streamlines the process for public safety and judicial practitioners by harmonizing the arrest and notification procedures to mirror those already in place for domestic violence. SENATOR OGAN asked her to explain why they are using ex parte orders. MR. BRUCE ROBERTS, District Attorney, City of Anchorage, explained that ex parte means that one party can have contact with a judge. Ordinarily a judge, being a neutral party, should not speak to one party without the other one present. This would allow the petitioner not to actually have a hearing behind closed doors. She fills out a form, presents that to the court with the facts and is then sworn under oath and provides testimony or answers questions in support of that affidavit. It is a public record. One of the reasons to make a restraining order ex parte is because it couldn't be accomplished if you had to wait for the respondent or the batterer or whoever. However, the defendant has an opportunity to respond to the order within 20 days. CHAIR SEEKINS said that Representative Holm submitted an amendment that would remove a defendant from the registry if the protective order is found to be without merit and dissolved by the court, which protects people from the frivolous or spiteful order request. CHAIR SEEKINS asked Representative Heinze if she wanted to work on that language with Representative Holm. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE was surprised she hadn't heard about this amendment and said she would work on it with him. There are all kinds of protective laws associated with domestic violence, but this bill is mainly for someone being stalked who has no idea who the person is that is stalking them. SENATOR OGAN asked what are the typical cases of stalking that the city deals with. MR. ROBERTS replied that he had been with the District Attorney's Office for 15 years and that stalking is a misdemeanor within the municipality and the state has misdemeanor and felony stalking (violation of a restraining order). He was a little leery of the amendment because if the petitioner applies for the order, she has to prove as of now that she is in need of protection and that an act of domestic violence has been committed against her. Sometimes reconciliation takes place or one or both people don't show up at the hearing. He didn't know if an order could be issued against someone who was unknown. CHAIR SEEKINS noted that AS 18.65.540, the Department of Public Safety shall maintain a central registry of protective orders issued or filed with the court that must include the names of the petitioner, the respondent, their dates of birth and the conditions and duration of the order. The registry shall retain a record of the protective order after it has expired. Representative Holm is suggesting the Department of Public Safety should remove from the registry an ex parte protective order that is dissolved by the court or expires without being issued. He thought the idea might have some merit. MR. ROBERTS said the registry is a public record, but one of the reasons for it is that it is shared between states. There may be some federal requirements and the amendment might need review. SENATOR OGAN said he was concerned about due process. CHAIR SEEKINS said he agreed with the intent of the bill, but he wanted to examine that question so that they didn't unduly burden someone who was not a stalker. MS. MARY WELLS said she is the reason this bill is before them. She and her entire family, including her husband, was stalked by an individual who befriended her children and called them at all times of the day and night with threats. She felt this bill would have provided her with a lot of protection and hoped that it would pass this year. CHAIR SEEKINS thanked everyone for their comments and said the bill would be held for further work.