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Susan K. Fisher v. Timothy E. Fisher

October 13, 2011

SUSAN K. FISHER PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
TIMOTHY E. FISHER DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Domestic Relations Division Case No. D-253906

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

Cite as

Fisher v. Fisher,

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

JUDGMENT:

AFFIRMED

BEFORE: Boyle, J., Kilbane, A.J., and Rocco, J.

{¶1} The long and convoluted procedural history of this case is too agonizing to recite. Defendant-appellant, Timothy Fisher, and plaintiff-appellee, Susan Fisher, were married in 1985, and had two children during the marriage, both of whom are now emancipated. Although they separated in April 1997 and divorced in May 2000, they have essentially been fighting in court ever since -- for over 14 years. See Fisher v. Fisher (June 28, 2001), 8th Dist. No. 78092. Defendant now appeals for the second time, raising seven assignments of error. We find no merit to his arguments and affirm.

{¶2} In the first judgment that defendant is appealing, the trial court adopted the magistrate's decision on several of plaintiff's motions that were filed in 2000, 2001, and 2004. The magistrate found defendant in contempt of court for failing to pay the full amount of the parties' property division under their judgment entry of divorce. The trial court adopted the magistrate's decision and ordered the defendant to pay plaintiff $20,548, plus statutory interest from July 9, 2001 (the date this court journalized the first appeal). The magistrate also recommended, and the trial court adopted and ordered, that defendant pay plaintiff $7,000 for her attorney fees in the matter.

{¶3} In the second judgment that defendant is appealing, the trial court adopted the magistrate's decision regarding defendant's motion to modify child support. Although the trial court granted defendant's motion in part, defendant now raises several issues relating to the magistrate's decision.

Admission of Evidence

{¶4} In his first assignment of error, defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by striking additional evidence that he submitted with his written closing argument.

{¶5} The trial court's discretion to admit or exclude evidence is broad "so long as such discretion is exercised in line with the rules of procedure and evidence." Rigby v. Lake Cty. (1991), 58 Ohio St.3d 269, 271, 569 N.E.2d 1056. An appellate court reviewing the trial court's admission of evidence must limit its review to whether the lower court abused its discretion. Id.

{¶6} At the close of the hearing on February 5, 2009, the following took place:

{¶7} "THE MAGISTRATE: How do you want to do closing? Whatever is cheapest and easier for you.

{¶8} "The facts in this case I don't have a problem remembering. But there are a lot of numbers. You may just want to give me some numbers. Do you want to do it orally? I don't care. If you want a week or so.

{¶9} "[DEFENDANT'S ATTORNEY]: We can submit written."

{¶10} Defense counsel then requested until the end of February 2009 to submit his written closing arguments, which the trial court granted. Defense counsel then stated, "[a]ny further documentation -- ," to which the trial court replied, "Yeah. If it's self-authenticating, I'll consider it. If not, I'll have to figure something out." The hearing then ended.

{¶11} According to the magistrate, defendant attached "a stack of documents" to his closing argument, "purporting to establish that he should receive credit against his property division debt for payments for children's activity and medical expenses that should have been contributed to by the plaintiff." The magistrate determined that these documents were not self-authenticating and could not "be admitted into evidence after the hearing has been completed." The magistrate further stated that "defendant had four years *** to supply his counsel with these records so that they could properly be placed into evidence, but did not do so until this late date."

{ΒΆ12} After reviewing the record, we find no error on the part of the trial court. Although defendant claims that the magistrate requested he submit additional evidentiary material, that was not the case. The magistrate requested "numbers," not documents. When defendant requested to submit documentation, the magistrate cautioned ...


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