NEW YORK, May 31, 2018: Morgan Lewis, in partnership with Colorado nonprofit Bridge to Justice, has achieved a significant Colorado Supreme Court victory helping to protect victims of domestic assault and giving them greater access to the state’s courts.
In a landmark unanimous decision issued May 21, the state’s highest court held that harassing communications sent by an out-of-state individual directed at a Colorado resident established personal jurisdiction that was sufficient to support a civil protection order.
The case involved a woman who had fled from her New Jersey home to live with her family in Colorado, following her husband’s persistent physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Despite moving to Colorado, the woman remained subject to the husband’s abusive behavior via threatening text messages, telephone calls, and video calls. Although she initially secured a permanent civil protection order to shield her from the harassment, the husband appealed and the order was vacated after an intermediate court concluded that it lacked personal jurisdiction over him.
Bridge to Justice, a highly innovative organization that provides civil legal services to low- and moderate-income Coloradans who do not qualify for free legal aid, then turned to Morgan Lewis to collaborate on an appeal of the adverse ruling. Partners Ari Selman and Ken Schacter led Morgan Lewis’s efforts.
As a result of the briefing prepared by the firm and Bridge to Justice, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned the intermediate court ruling, holding that the woman “should not have had to wait until (the husband) arrived at her door to seek the court’s protection from his threats in light of the history of violence and coercion in their marriage.” This important decision is expected to broadly benefit domestic violence victims who flee their abusers in other states and come to Colorado.