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M.H. v. J.P.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Lorain

January 9, 2017

M.H. Appellee
v.
J.P., et al. Appellants

         APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE Nos. 15CV186968 15CV196969

          J. P., pro se, Appellant.

          J.P., Attorney at Law, for Appellant

          L.P. GERALD WALTON, Attorney at Law, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          CARLA MOORE JUDGE

         {¶1} Respondents-Appellants J.P. and L.P. appeal from the judgments of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

         I.

         {¶2} On July 14, 2015, as Petitioner-Appellee M.H. was driving to CVS she encountered slow traffic. She was not sure why traffic was moving so slowly. As she was looking around, she noticed that the person in the car in front of her was the cause of the slow traffic and was videotaping her with his phone while he drove. She realized the car in front of her was being driven by either J.P. or L.P., who are identical twins. According to M.H. the brothers live near her parents and had videotaped her and her family in the past. The brothers had also called the police on her family on multiple occasions in the past. She also came to notice that the car in front of the car directly in front of her was driven by someone else who was also videotaping her. That person was discovered to be the other brother.

         {¶3} M.H. called the police because she was concerned about J.P.'s and LP's behavior in the past. She also believed that at least one of the brothers had a gun that he had threatened to use on more than one occasion. A sheriff happened to be in the area, noticed the traffic backup, and began to investigate. The sheriff spoke with J.P. and L.P., who indicated that M.H. was stalking them and that was why they were videotaping her. M.H. told the sheriff her side of the story, and she was allowed to continue to the police station to fill out a police report.

         {¶4} On July 17, 2015, M.H. filed a petition for a civil stalking protection order against J.P. and L.P. pursuant to R.C. 2903.214. That same day, an ex parte order was issued. The protected persons were M.H. and her two minor daughters. A full hearing was held July 31, 2015, at which the petitions against J.P. and L.P. were heard together. J.P., a licensed attorney in Ohio, represented himself and his brother. M.H. appeared pro se. Towards the end of the cross-examination of M.H., the trial judge abruptly halted the proceedings, determined that J.P. was "making a mockery out of [the proceedings], " and refused to allow J.P. to present a defense.

         {¶5} The trial court subsequently issued a full hearing civil stalking protection order against J.P. and L.P. Thereafter, J.P. and L.P. appealed. They then moved to amend the notices of appeal to include an order of the trial court that was filed shortly before the notices of appeal. We granted their motion. Subsequently, this Court consolidated the two appeals.

         {¶6} J.P. and L.P. have raised 11 assignments of error for our review, which will be addressed out of sequence to facilitate our analysis.

II.
ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR II
R.C. 2903.214/ITS SCHEME IS/WAS FACIALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND/OR UNCONSTITUTIONAL AS APPLIED TO [J.P. AND LP], AND OTHERWISE (INCLUDING THROUGH THE ORDERS) VIOLATES/ED [J.P'S AND LP'S] FIRST, ...

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