Criminal contempt for violating a PPO; In re Contempt of Henry; DeGeorge v. Warheit
The trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the respondent in criminal contempt for violating a PPO because the evidence was sufficient to prove he willfully disobeyed the PPO. Respondent was charged with violating the PPO after he appeared at petitioner's workplace. There was no dispute he was at the mall where petitioner worked, he appeared within her sight, and he went into the store where she worked. The PPO prohibited respondent from, inter alia, following petitioner or appearing within her sight, appearing at her workplace or residence, and approaching or confronting her in a public place or on private property. The court concluded the circumstantial evidence was sufficient to allow the trial court to determine respondent knew petitioner worked at the store in the mall. Petitioner testified respondent was able to find her even when she did not tell him where she was, as shown by the fact he showed up at a college campus when she moved there. She also testified respondent was able to access private information from her computer, as shown by the fact he later made statements about things he could only have known if he accessed her personal files. Petitioner further testified information about the store was briefly stored in her computer, and the evidence revealed respondent showed up at the store within 10 days of petitioner's employment there. Despite the fact respondent offered a valid reason for traveling to the city on the day at issue, the evidence showed he chose to go to the mall for a good part of the day, the store where petitioner worked was the only store where he made a purchase, he went to the store immediately upon arriving at the mall, he seemed nervous while shopping there, and he later returned to the store, ostensibly to double check his receipt. Viewing the evidence as a whole, the court held it was reasonable for the trial court to conclude respondent manufactured a reason to go to the mall and stayed there for several hours on the chance he would find petitioner there, which happened. Affirmed.
Full Text Opinion
State Bar of Michigan
306 Townsend St
Lansing, MI 48933-2012