If you want to stop an adversary, lawsuits aren’t the only legal option. Injunctions and temporary restraining orders – or TROs – provide an equitably remedy, for both civil and criminal wrongdoings.
Broadly speaking, injunctions are court orders that compel an individual or business to either do something or stop doing something. Temporary restraining orders are granted if one party feels they could be irreparably harmed while waiting for their court date to arrive.
Examples Of When You Can Pursue Temporary Restraining Orders
For example, let’s say one of your employees leaked trade secrets and you want them to stop, but the injunction hearing is 2 weeks in the future. If you waited till the injunction hearing date, the employee would have plenty of time to leak a lot of information. Obtaining a temporary restraining order would provide a stop gap. Two other examples are divorce or a hostile business takeover; in both instances there is a largely possibility that one party in the dispute may try to hide or waste money before the court date – a temporary restraining order could prevent both from happening.
A Brief History & Definition of Legal Injunctions
Not only did Henry VII sire one of history’s more infamous Kings, but it was also around the time of his rule that injunctions became a part of the legal process. Due to changing demographics, cultural norms and conditions, society had to develop a way to provide punishments that fit the crime. In other words, people started realizing that chopping off someone’s hands for stealing a loaf of bread was a bit extreme. As such, equitable legal remedies came about based on the principle of status quo ante.
Status quo ante is a legal principal that addresses the need for a balance between a crime and a punishment. For example, if someone is harassing you online, the goal is to get said person to stop harassing you online; as such, technically, money wouldn’t be of much help in that situation. While it’s true that in today’s world we’ve attached a dollar amount to most wrongs, the spirit of the premise is still very much a part of our legal system.
The Role of Injunctions In Today’s Legal Framework
A court-issued injunction either compels an entity to do something or refrain from doing something. You can get an injunction to have your now-on-the-outs startup partner from revealing trade secrets, or you can get an injunction to get your soon-to-be ex-spouse to turn over bank records.
The court takes injunction infractions very seriously; violators can face both civil and criminal penalties.
Injunctions are typical in cases of:
- Domestic violence
- Physical abuse
- Trade dress
- IP infringement
- Trade secret disclosure
- Tortious interference
- Civil and criminal contempt
- Unauthorized practice of law
What Are Temporary Restraining Orders
Temporary restraining orders – also known as TROs – are essentially legal stop-gaps between the time you file for an injunction and the first hearing for said injunction. Basically, they’re pre-trial temporary injunctions. Unlike a lawsuit ruling, a judge’s decision on a TRO cannot be appealed. Temporary restraining orders can be granted ex parte, meaning that the individual or business to which the TRO is directed does not have to be notified ahead of time that it could be on its way. In other words, you can file for a TRO in secret, so as not to give your adversary a heads-up as to your plans.
How Long Do Temporary Restraining Orders Last
Each state has their own specific rules as to how long temporary restraining orders can last. To give you a ballpark idea, though, in federal courts, temporary restraining orders can be granted for up to 14 days. A judge, however, can extend the order for good cause, the reason for which must be recorded in the documentation. In addition, if, for whatever reason, the opposing party agrees to extend the TRO, it can be extended.
What Your Lawyer Must Prove To Win A TRO
In order to successfully win a temporary restraining order, your lawyer must prove to the judge that:
- You will likely win your injunction;
- The actions from which you are seeking relief are irreparably harming you in some way;
- If the TRO is not granted, you or others will suffer because of it;
- The TRO doesn’t harm the public’s interest in some way.
Temporary Restraining Order Rules For Federal Courts
Each U.S. state has their own set of statutes dealing with injunctions and temporary restraining orders. It’s best to check with a TRO attorney to find out what options are available in your jurisdiction. The lawyer you find doesn’t have to be in your state, as most TRO lawyers have dealt with situations from all over the country, due to today’s more fluid, digital-based business environment.
Temporary Restraining Order Procedures
To give you an idea of TRO litigation procedures, let’s take a look at the rules for TROs in federal courts, which are laid out in Rule 65(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The federal TRO rules say that in order to be granted a temporary restraining order without “warning” the recipient ahead of time, one must:
a) provide an affidavit, with specific facts, that prove immediate harm; and
b) have their attorney certify in writing any efforts made to give notice to the intended recipient, or the reasons notice should not be given.
From a logistical standpoint, the federal temporary restraining order rule says that every TRO issued must:
a) include the date and hour it was issued;
b) stated why it was granted ex parte (if it was granted ex parte);
c) describe any injury that would have probably occurred if the TRO wasn’t granted;
d) be promptly delivered to clerk’s office for filing.
If you need an attorney to help you secure a temporary restraining order or injunction against an individual or business, give the lawyers at Kelly/Warner a call. We’ve worked with people and companies from all 50 states and have considerable experience with TROs and injunctions.