e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 41995
Opinion Date : 02/26/2009
e-Journal Date : 03/05/2009
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : Wright v. Brown-Root
Practice Area(s) : Personal Protection Orders
Judge(s) : Per Curiam - Donofrio, K.F. Kelly, and Beckering
Full Text Opinion
Issues:

Whether the trial court properly dismissed the respondent's challenge to an ex parte PPO against her obtained by the petitioner after an initial referee review; MCL 600.2950(4); MCL 750.411h and i; MCL 600.2950(1)(i); Kampf v. Kampf; Pickering v. Pickering; MCR 3.310(B)(5); MCL 600.2950(4)(a) and (b); Defining "stalking," "harassment," and "unconsented contact"; Whether there was factual support for the trial court to continue the PPO; Whether the level of contact would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress; MCL 750.411h(1)(b); Whether respondent was given an opportunity to respond to the allegations; Wilson v. Taylor

Summary

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the PPO should remain in place because there was reasonable cause to believe respondent-Brown-Root would continue to engage in stalking or other similar behavior. At the time of the alleged incidents forming the basis of petitioner-Wright's petition for the PPO, Brown-Root was married to Rick Root. Root and Wright shared custody of their minor child, and exchanged physical custody of the child and Wright's other child at Wright's home on a regular basis. Wright alleged numerous unwanted contacts between her, Root, and Brown-Root during child exchanges, as well as the period of time when Root separated from Brown-Root and stayed with Wright. After Wright received the PPO in September 2007, respondent moved to terminate the order. After a hearing, the referee found petitioner set forth sufficient allegations of stalking to support the issuance of the PPO. The trial court reviewed the evidence and an affidavit by respondent purporting to deny petitioner's allegations, and affirmed the order. The court found no error in the trial court's finding respondent engaged in a minimum of two unconsented contacts, including at least one phone conversation with petitioner and an unwanted entry onto her property. Petitioner's statements as to footprints in her yard supported her claim respondent entered her yard and disabled Root's vehicle. Given the two instances of unconsented contact and respondent's admission she re-entered petitioner's yard after being asked not to do so, the trial court correctly found petitioner established the repeated contacts necessary to show respondent was stalking her. It was also clear respondent's activities could reasonably be construed as designed to molest or harass petitioner. The trial court's finding the two instances of unconsented contact and the others in the petition caused petitioner fear and distress was not erroneous. The trial court had the opportunity to observe petitioner's demeanor and the fact one allegation involved respondent's threatening behavior in the use of her car. Affirmed.

Full Text Opinion