Perception is reality; and that lesson can sometimes be a hard one to be reminded of, especially when that lesson can affect the outcome of an Order for Protection.
Recently, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued an opinion on whether a District Court Judge committed error by considering ‘courtroom demeanor’ of a father who contested the issuance of an Order for Protection against him.
In that case, the District Court Judge found that the father had difficulty controlling his temper, stating: “the demeanor that I saw on the witness stand of [father] is somebody who probably has a real problem with temper and controlling that temper”.
In granting the Order for Protection against the father, the District Court considered the father’s demeanor and assessed his credibility when considering his version of what happened. According to the Court’s findings, the evidence at trial supported the mother’s version of events; that the father forcefully pushed one of their minor children into a chair and caused her to hit her head. The Order for Protection was granted based on this finding.
Although the father challenged the District Court’s decision to consider his courtroom demeanor when assessing his credibility, the District Court was correct in noting his behavior at trial. A district court has discretion to consider courtroom demeanor when determining whether a witness is credible. See Nelson v. Nelson, 291 Minn. 496, 497, 189 N.W.2d 413, 415 (1971).
When preparing for a trial or any court appearance, always be conscious of how you are presenting before a fact finder, as your behavior can impact the outcome.
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If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.