e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 72059
Opinion Date : 12/26/2019
e-Journal Date : 01/21/2020
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : PLT v. JBP
Practice Area(s) : Personal Protection Orders, Constitutional Law
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – Tukel, Sawyer, and Riordan
Full Text Opinion

Claim that the personal protection order (PPO) infringed on respondent’s First Amendment speech rights; Whether the PPO was properly issued; “Stalking”; MCL 750.411h(1)(d); “A course of conduct”; MCL 750.411h(1)(a); “Harassment”; MCL 750.411h(1)(c); “Emotional distress”; MCL 750.411h(1)(b); Whether the conduct served a legitimate purpose; Nastal v. Henderson & Assoc. Investigations, Inc.; People v. White; Right to free speech under the state & federal constitutions; City of Owosso v. Pouillon; McCullen v. Coakley; The “right to be let alone”; Hill v. Colorado; Whether the PPO was content neutral; Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of W. NY; Whether petitioner subjectively feared respondent; Deference to a trial court’s credibility assessment; Patel v. Patel; The trial court’s factual findings; MCR 2.613(C); Whether the trial court had to make a finding of irreparable harm; A PPO as a type of injunctive relief; Hayford v. Hayford; The constitutionality of the PPO’s scope; Mootness; TM v. MZ


The court held that the trial court did not err in issuing the challenged PPO, concluding that respondent’s conduct was not constitutionally protected because it did not serve a legitimate purpose. The trial court also did not err in crediting petitioner’s testimony about her subjective fear of respondent. Thus, it affirmed the issuance of the PPO. Finding that respondent’s challenge to the scope of the PPO was moot, it declined to consider this issue. Petitioner works “at a women’s health clinic that performs abortions." Respondent protested at the clinic. She successfully applied for the PPO ex parte, and the trial court later denied his motion to terminate it. It expired by its own terms on 10/11/19. On appeal, the court first concluded that public protests about “abortion, whether in support or opposition, serve legitimate political purposes; however, respondent’s conduct exceeded the permissible scope of that activity.” For example, one afternoon he “parked his car two spaces away from petitioner’s car.” When she and a co-worker “left the clinic, respondent exited his vehicle and told petitioner that he was walking to another store in the mall. But he did not continue on to the store. Instead, he turned back to his car in the direction of where petitioner was standing, claiming that he was putting a camera back in his car and locking the car. As he did so, he started talking to petitioner about her ‘blood lust.’ When petitioner stated that respondent was ‘scaring the sh—out of her,’ respondent laughed and accused her of approaching him.” His focus throughout was solely on her even though she was with a co-worker. These circumstances supported her belief that he “was starting to go beyond his political message and instead targeting her personally.” The court held that his conduct violated her “right to be let alone. Petitioner repeatedly told respondent that he was scaring her and to get away from her.” He ignored her requests. Thus, “the trial court could reasonably find, as it did, that respondent was no longer simply seeking to share his political viewpoint with someone who might be receptive to his beliefs. Instead, [he] was antagonizing an individual who knew his views, did not share them, did not wish to hear them, and had repeatedly asked him to stop because he was scaring her. Such conduct was no longer constitutionally protected because respondent violated petitioner’s right to be let alone . . . .”

Full Text Opinion