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Joey81

How to get surveillance footage

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Is there some process whereby I can compel a business to release surveillance footage to me to provide proof that I did not violate my restraining order?

 

For more context, my wife has been making a series of false claims to ensure that she controls custody of our child in our divorce. She has had one of her parents corroborate claims, which makes it very hard for me to defend myself. In the incident in question she claims that I was 'stalking' her while she was running errands. A New Hampshire police officer spoke with both of us and concluded that I did not violate the order, and did not request any surveillance from the parking area or the stores that I was in. The dilemma, however, is that my wife's attorney is still threatening to file to have the restraining order expanded based on these claims and my attorney said he "doesn't know a judge who wouldn't grant an expansion of the order based on her claims". Without physical evidence I can't refute what she and her parents claim. The police officer who investigated is a NH officer, but our family court proceedings are taking place in VT and NH officers refuse to testify out of state. As a result, the police report is inadmissible and the judge will have only our testimony unless I can get some further evidence.

 

I am desperately trying to protect myself here, and I hope that this may actually be a way for me to start to establish for the court that she is lying to get me in trouble and taking advantage of my honesty by weaving a little truth in, then making wild claims. Yes, I was in town. I drove into a parking lot and saw them, then immediately left. I think the parking lot cameras can show this, and disprove claims that I was following them around. 

 

Any advice is much appreciated. Also, I do have a lawyer, but he is not at all proactive and I am pretty much on my own with gathering evidence to protect myself. If anyone has recommendations for an excellent family law attorney in VT I would appreciate that as well. I need all the help I can get. Thanks.

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13 minutes ago, Joey81 said:

Is there some process whereby I can compel a business to release surveillance footage to me to provide proof that I did not violate my restraining order?

 

A private citizen cannot compel another private citizen (including a business) to turn over any document (including video footage, photographs, etc.) except in the context of a legal proceeding.  If you are suing someone or someone is suing you, and you believe some business has video footage that may be useful as evidence, you can serve a subpoena.  If someone is claiming you violated a restraining order and is seeking to have you held in contempt, you should be able to serve a subpoena in connection with the contempt proceedings.  You would have to discuss with your attorney the process by which you would subpoena a resident of New Hampshire in connection with a legal action pending in Vermont.

 

One thing to keep in mind:  Most businesses are not in the habit of keeping hours upon hours upon days upon weeks of video footage.  Moreover, many businesses don't record video off surveillance cameras, and many surveillance cameras are fake.  You didn't indicate how long ago the incident in question occurred.  However, unless this happened within the last week, I think there's probably a pretty good chance that any video footage that might have been recorded no longer exists.  Before you do anything that might cost legal fees, you try contacting whomever owns the parking lot to see if any cameras present are real and, if so, whether any video footage was actually recorded and, if so, whether it still exists from the date/time in question.

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1 hour ago, pg1067 said:

 

A private citizen cannot compel another private citizen (including a business) to turn over any document (including video footage, photographs, etc.) except in the context of a legal proceeding.  If you are suing someone or someone is suing you, and you believe some business has video footage that may be useful as evidence, you can serve a subpoena.  If someone is claiming you violated a restraining order and is seeking to have you held in contempt, you should be able to serve a subpoena in connection with the contempt proceedings.  You would have to discuss with your attorney the process by which you would subpoena a resident of New Hampshire in connection with a legal action pending in Vermont.

 

One thing to keep in mind:  Most businesses are not in the habit of keeping hours upon hours upon days upon weeks of video footage.  Moreover, many businesses don't record video off surveillance cameras, and many surveillance cameras are fake.  You didn't indicate how long ago the incident in question occurred.  However, unless this happened within the last week, I think there's probably a pretty good chance that any video footage that might have been recorded no longer exists.  Before you do anything that might cost legal fees, you try contacting whomever owns the parking lot to see if any cameras present are real and, if so, whether any video footage was actually recorded and, if so, whether it still exists from the date/time in question.

 

I did check with the businesses, and I still have a couple weeks before they delete the footage. My lawyer isn't much help and takes months to accomplish anything. He is the eternal pessimist and would not even consider trying to sort out whether he can get this footage. I'll have to do it on my own. I just don't know what to file and with whom.

 

Thanks.

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1 hour ago, pg1067 said:

claiming you violated a restraining order and is seeking to have you held in contempt

 

She did complain to the police that I was 'stalking' her, but has not yet filed anything with the court. Her lawyer has threatened it, though. I don't doubt that it will come up in court in some context, but it may not be until after my window of time to get footage has closed. If there needs to be something more than a police report, then I may be out of luck. 

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15 hours ago, Joey81 said:

My lawyer isn't much help and takes months to accomplish anything. He is the eternal pessimist and would not even consider trying to sort out whether he can get this footage. I'll have to do it on my own. I just don't know what to file and with whom.

 

You can't do anything about a subpoena except through your attorney of record.  Therefore, your options are as follows:  (1) try and convince whomever has the video footage to give it to you voluntarily; (2) tell your lawyer to get off his ass and do his job; (3) fire your lawyer and get a new one or represent yourself; or (4) give up on this.

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9 hours ago, pg1067 said:

 

You can't do anything about a subpoena except through your attorney of record.  Therefore, your options are as follows:  (1) try and convince whomever has the video footage to give it to you voluntarily; (2) tell your lawyer to get off his ass and do his job; (3) fire your lawyer and get a new one or represent yourself; or (4) give up on this.

 

Thank you again for clarifying. I didn't realize that I have to go through my attorney of record, but I guess that makes sense. I've been thinking of giving him the boot, but nobody else was available when I began the divorce process a few months back. I can't help but think I'd be just as well off representing myself, but I realize that is probably incredibly naive. More just an expression of how frustrating this has been.

 

Any recommendations for an excellent family law attorney in the Windsor/Orange County area in VT would me much appreciated.

Thanks again.

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