TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The rights of those accused of domestic violence were on trial at the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday.
A Jacksonville man is seeking several thousand dollars in attorney's fees from a California woman after her cyberstalking accusations, which led to a temporary injunction against him, were proven false. Sean Hall and Nicole Lopez knew each other.
His attorney, Earl Johnson Jr., said the amount is small, but what's at stake is the right of the falsely accused to be made whole.
“In most instances, these injunctions against stalking and such are used as a shield. But in this case, it was used as a sword. We were able to prove that it was fabricated -- fraud upon the court, perjury upon the court. And we wanted sanctions as attorney fees pursuant to Florida law," Johnson said.
Michael Yokam, the attorney for the woman who sought the domestic violence injunction, said a ruling forcing her to pay fees could impact women coming forward in the future.
“It could have a chilling effect. It could create a whole cottage industry of people who will hold themselves out as attorneys for the purpose of seeking attorney’s fees and seeking respondents in these kinds of case," Yokam said.
Earlier this year, lawmakers passed legislation barring the recovery of attorneys fees in domestic injunctions.
But since the law was not in effect when this case happened, the court could decide either way.