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Sobieniak v. Chapdelaine

December 5, 2008

MICHAEL SOBIENIAK, JR. APPELLEE
v.
DARLENE A. CHAPDELAINE APPELLANT



Trial Court No. CI08-4031.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Osowik, J.

DECISION AND JUDGMENT

{¶1} This is an appeal from a judgment of the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas which granted appellee a civil protection order against appellant. For the reasons set forth below, this court affirms, in part, and reverses, in part, the judgment of the trial court.

{¶2} Appellant, Darlene Chapdelaine, sets forth the following sole assignment of error:

{¶3} "Did the trial court err in granting of civil protection order and with finding of contempt both unsupported by the admitted evidence & testimony of witnesses."

{¶4} The following undisputed facts are relevant to the issues raised on appeal. The parties are neighbors in Dayville, Connecticut. There is an extensive history of litigation between the parties. The bulk of the testimony submitted below pertained to matters and incidents occurring in Connecticut.

{¶5} The pertinent occurrence transpiring between the parties creating a nexus to the state of Ohio consisted of several emails that appellant sent to an Ohio company connected to appellee alleging that appellee was engaged in acts of property theft to the detriment of the Ohio company, Ramm Fence Systems, Inc.

{¶6} On May 13, 2008, appellee secured an ex parte civil protection order ("CPO") against appellant through the Lucas County Common Pleas Court. Appellant contested Ohio's jurisdiction based upon the assertion that both parties reside in Connecticut. It is not disputed that appellant resides in Connecticut.

{¶7} Appellee holds an Ohio driver's license and does have employment records with an Ohio company. Conversely, eyewitness testimony in the record is indicative of appellee residing in Connecticut. Ultimately, the string of emails sent from appellant into Ohio establishes a sufficient Ohio connection for jurisdictional purposes of the disputed CPO.

{¶8} Upon notification that a CPO had been filed against her in Ohio, appellant requested an oral hearing to contest same. On May 27, 2008, the CPO hearing commenced before the trial court.

{¶9} The record shows that the CPO hearing was unusually lengthy and largely pertained to incidents and events transpiring within the state of Connecticut. On May 28, 2008, the second afternoon of the pro se CPO proceeding, the trial court's frustration with the unduly cumbersome hearing culminated in a contempt finding against appellant.

{¶10} On May 29, 2008, the hearing concluded. The trial court granted the CPO against appellant and imposed a three-day suspended sentence upon appellant regarding the contempt finding. Appellant filed timely notice of appeal.

{¶11} On October 10, 2008, the trial court issued an entry modifying the CPO by limiting its applicability to acts occurring in Ohio. The trial court noted that appellee lives periodically in Connecticut in close proximity to appellant.

{ΒΆ12} In her assignment of error, appellant asserts that the trial court erred in granting the CPO against her and in finding her in contempt of court. Trial courts determine whether to grant civil protection orders pursuant to a preponderance of the evidence standard. As such, trial court civil protection order judgments will not be disturbed on appeal so long as they are supported by some competent, ...


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