A Concord District Court jury today acquitted Attorney Chris Spring’s client of twice violating a restraining order that had been obtained by his wife.
The defendant and his wife were unhappily married for many years when the defendant finally suggested separating. The wife was unhappy with the prospect of divorcing and decided to obtain a restraining order against the defendant. Divorce proceedings commenced in probate court and the wife told the police the defendant had violated the restraining order more than a dozen times. The investigating officer ultimately charged the defendant with seven restraining order violations. During the course of the criminal litigation, five of the seven violations were dismissed and the defendant elected to have a trial before a jury on the remaining two violations.
The first alleged violation involved the defendant sending an email to his wife wishing her luck in recovering from a surgery. The second alleged violation involved the defendant slowly walking past a restaurant where the wife was eating and making eye contact with her. With respect to the email violation, Attorney Spring argued to the jury that the terms of the restraining order actually allowed the defendant and his wife to have email contact with each other for any reason. There were ambiguous amendments made to the restraining order by a probate court judge, but they did not prohibit the email contact that was authorized by the initial order. Regarding the restaurant violation, the wife admitted to Attorney Spring during cross-examination that she had seen the defendant’s car sitting in the restaurant parking lot before she pulled in. She testified that she went to the restaurant anyway because it was the only place open (at 11 a.m. in Waltham) and she had promised her daughters they would eat at that particular restaurant. Attorney Spring challenged the wife’s assertion that there were no other places to eat in Waltham, and asked the jury why the wife (who was supposedly so scared of the defendant that she sought a restraining order against him) would choose to eat in a restaurant knowing her husband was sitting in the parking lot.
Perhaps the most compelling part of the defendant’s case involved the wife’s behavior during the two months after she obtained the restraining order. Attorney Spring confronted the wife during cross-examination about her decision to repeatedly contact the defendant after the restraining order had been issued. The wife admitted she had spent hours at a time with the defendant; she had surprised her husband at an event in Boston; she had met the defendant for drinks; and she had driven to the defendant’s hotel room and spent the night sleeping in his bed. Attorney Spring argued to the jury that the wife had been lying when she told a judge she was scared of the defendant and needed a restraining order to protect herself, and if she previously lied under oath, the jury should not believe her trial testimony.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour before finding Attorney Spring’s client not guilty of violating the restraining order.