Pettingill v. Pettingill

480 S.W.3d 920 (2015)

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Pettingill v. Pettingill

Kentucky Supreme Court
480 S.W.3d 920 (2015)

Facts

On July 2, 2013, the family court granted Sara Pettingill (plaintiff) an emergency protective order (EPO) against her husband, Jeffrey Pettingill (defendant). In Sara’s petition for the EPO, she alleged that Jeffrey had abused the family pet in the presence of the Pettingill’s daughter, set up surveillance cameras to spy and stalk Sara, accessed Sara’s social medica accounts, broken Sara’s cell phone, kept a firearm although he had a felony conviction, and previously threatened to kill his ex-wife. Following the EPO, the family court held a hearing to determine whether a domestic violence order (DVO) against Jeffrey was warranted. Based on the evidence provided, the family court judge issued the DVO after finding that Sara was at extreme risk of physical harm. The judge found that nine of the 12 top lethality factors indicating intimate-partner victimization were present, based on Jeffrey’s behavior toward Sara, his ex-wife, and the family pet. In issuing the DVO, the judge completed Kentucky’s AOC Form 275.3, which required checking a box to indicate that Sara had shown by a preponderance of the evidence that Jeffrey had committed acts of domestic violence and that such acts may occur in the future. Jeffrey appealed the DVO on the ground that the judge took impermissible judicial notice of the lethality factors and that the judge had impermissibly used these factors to issue the DVO. The court of appeals affirmed the family court’s issuance of the DVO. The matter was appealed again.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Keller, J.)

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