Yes. You have the right to represent yourself in a legal matter. In fact, although virtually all defendants in a criminal case will be represented by a lawyer, parties at most restraining order hearings are acting pro se; that is, they are representing themselves.
Although it is often helpful to have physical evidence to corroborate your version of events, the only thing you absolutely need to bring to a restraining order hearing in D.C. is yourself.
With D.C. Superior Court now closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Civil Protection Orders (CPOs), Temporary Protection Orders (TPOs) and other forms of restraining orders must be obtained remotely.
You have to love the “no-lose” questions on cross-examination. Yes or no. You win no matter how the witness responds.
Complaining witnesses lie on the stand. This never ceases to amaze me. They could be telling the absolute truth about events that led to the criminal prosecution. But when they get on the stand and they are challenged on details during cross-examination, they abandon the truth.
Although a civil protection order (CPO) is a civil matter, not a criminal one, being the subject of a CPO can lead to criminal charges if you are accused of violating the order.
The court may not have “jurisdiction” (i.e., power) to issue the order. Or the court may decide, after holding a hearing, that there is not “good cause” to believe a crime was committed.
Although the usual practice is for the CPO hearing to “trail” the criminal case, the defendant/respondent might want the CPO hearing to go first.
If you have been served with a civil protection order (CPO) petition in D.C. and you yourself are the victim of abuse, you can file for a CPO of your own.
Although many people proceed without legal representation, a good lawyer can serve as your advisor and advocate, particularly if you decide to litigate the CPO.