Stalking Injunction Res Judicata

In math, two plus two always equals four. If you add it again in the calculator, the answer doesn’t change. However, that’s not the case in law. When the judge, jurors, lawyers or witnesses change, the same facts often result in different outcomes. But do you always get a second chance to argue an issue if you lose the first time? Well, it depends. Res judicata might interfere. The Fourth District Court of Appeal discusses a second chance at a stalking injunction in Klement v. Kofsman o/b/o A.K., a child.

Res Judicata

Res judicata sounds confusing, but the idea is simple: you can’t get two bites at the same apple. Or, it is what it is. Both sayings fit. Res judicata bars parties from relitigating claims previously decided by a final adjudication on the merits, though it doesn’t apply at all times. For res judicata to apply, there must be four identities: (1) identity of thing sued for, (2) identity of cause of action, (3) identity of persons and parties to the action, and (4) identity of quality or capacity of persons for or against whom the claim is made.

Here’s an easier way to look at it. So if you file for an injunction against someone and lose at a final hearing, you can’t file the same injunction for the same reason against the same person again hoping for a better outcome. There’s no do over. It just is what it is.

Stalking Injunction Hearings Before the Trial Judges

Kofsman files a petition for a stalking injunction against a neighbor Klement. At a final hearing, the judge denies the petition for a stalking injunction. Klement wins on the merits.

Months later, Kofsman files another petition for a stalking injunction against Klement. This time, a new judge hears the second petition. Even though the petition includes a couple different new issues, it mostly recounts the same old matters as the first petition.

Although injunctions and restraining orders involve criminal issues like stalking, they’re bound by civil procedure. There isn’t a double jeopardy issue like in criminal court. That’s why Klement files a motion to dismiss arguing res judicata. The second judge denies the motion and rules for Kofsman at the final hearing. She enters an injunction so Klement appeals.

The Fourth District Dissolves the Injunction on Res Judicata

Because the first judge ruled on the same exact issues, the second judge couldn’t now find them stalking or harassment. Res judicata bars it. This doesn’t stop Kofsman from filing another petition against Klement. He just has to raise new facts. Here, the judge could only look at the new facts.

But that’s not how the second hearing plays out. Rather than admit proof at the hearing of the new facts raised in the petition, Kofsman just brings up the same old facts again. Then when ruling, the second judge says that she’s not basing her ruling on the new facts in the petition. She decides this case on the old ones.

Therefore, the result is obvious. The second judge should have granted the motion to dismiss on res judicata because Kofsman proves nothing new at the final hearing. The old grounds had been decided and can’t support the injunction. The petition as presented has to be denied. Thus, the Fourth District vacates the injunction.

Read the Klement v. Kofsman o/b/o A.K., a child opinion here!

If you’re curious to learn more about injunctions, check out my page on Injunctions and Restraining Orders.

Talk to an Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Attorney!

For years, Mr. Brown worked with a family law firm handling injunctions for their clients. He’s filed them and he’s defended them. He’s even defended a client facing both an injunction and criminal charges at the same time.

The criminal defense firm Brown Legal PLLC operates from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but regularly handles cases throughout South Florida and the rest of the state. Before it’s too late, talk to Mr. Brown and see if he can help you! Reach out over the phone at (954) 524-6700 or through the Contact Page if you have any questions.

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