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R.C. v. J.G.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District

September 30, 2013

R.C. Appellee
v.
J.G. Appellant

APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF MEDINA, OHIO CASE No. 12DV0182.

JEFFREY W. KRUEGER, Attorney at Law, for Appellant.

THOMAS J. MORRIS, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.

DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

EVE V. BELFANCE, JUDGE.

(¶ 1} Appellant J.G. appeals the order of the Medina County Court of Common Pleas that granted a civil protection order to R.C. This Court affirms.

I.

(¶ 2}R.C. and J.G. ended their relationship in 2008, but J.G. continued to contact her throughout the next year. Often, the contact occurred at or was related to R.C.'s family business, in which J.G. holds a minority interest as an investor. Once, R.C. noticed that J.G. seemed to be following her around a local park in his car. She contacted the police on several occasions about J.G.'s behavior, and she petitioned the domestic relations court for a civil protection order in 2009. She ultimately withdrew that petition. After a few further incidents that R.C. reported to police in 2009 and 2010, J.G. agreed that he would only contact her about their common business interests through his attorney. The two had no further contact until 2012.

(¶3} On the evening of July 20, 2012, J.G. came to R.C.'s place of business knowing that she had left for the day. According to J.G., he made arrangements to meet an out-of-town acquaintance at the business because it was a convenient location and because it was conducive to the presence of his friend's young children. Nonetheless, R.C.'s coworkers reported his presence to her, and she called the police. The trial court granted her a civil protection order based on the conclusion that J.G. engaged in a pattern of conduct that knowingly caused R.C. to believe he would cause her harm. J.G. appealed.

II.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR I

THE TRIAL COURT LACKED SUFFICIENT, COMPETENT, CREDIBLE EVIDENCE TO PROVE BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE THAT [J.G.] ENGAGED IN AN ACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

(¶4} J.G.'s first assignment of error is that the trial court's conclusion that he knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct that caused R.C. to believe that he would cause her physical harm is not based on sufficient evidence. We do not agree.

(¶5} Because this case arose after July 1, 2012, it is governed by the provisions of newly-adopted Civ.R. 65.1. According to Civ.R. 65.1(F)(3), civil protection petitions may be referred to a magistrate for determination, but civil protection orders are not "magistrate's order[s]" as contemplated by Civ.R. 53(D) and are not subject to the requirements of Civ.R. 53 related to magistrate's orders. A civil protection order issued by a magistrate must still be adopted by the trial court, but only upon a review to determine whether there is an error of law or another defect evident on the face of the order. Civ.R. 65.1(F)(3)(c). A civil protection order is final and appealable and may be reviewed on appeal with or without objections being filed in the trial court. Civ.R. 65.1(F)(3)(d); Civ.R. 65.1(G). See also 2012 Staff Note, Civ.R. 65.1 ("Rule 65.1 is adopted to provide a set of provisions uniquely applicable to those statutory proceedings because application of the existing rules, particularly with respect to * * * reference to magistrates, interferes with the statutory process and is inconsistent with its purposes.").

(¶6} These changes are significant with respect to our standard of review. In the past, several appellate districts have concluded that when reviewing the evidence underlying a civil protection order, the appropriate standard of review is whether there is "competent, credible evidence going to all elements of the case, " which those courts characterize as a manifest weight standard. Williams v. Hupp, 7th Dist. Mahoning No. 10 MA 112, 2011-Ohio-3403, ¶ 22. See also C.E. Morris Co. v. Foley Constr., 54 Ohio St.2d 279 (1978). Recently, however, the Ohio Supreme Court has clarified that "[i]n civil cases, as in criminal cases, the sufficiency of the evidence is quantitatively and qualitatively different from the weight of the evidence." Eastley v. Volkman, 132 Ohio St.3d 328, 2012-Ohio-2179, paragraph two of the syllabus. "In a civil case, in which the burden of persuasion is only by a preponderance of the ...


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