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Banfield v. Orazem

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eleventh District, Geauga

November 6, 2017

DONNA BANFIELD, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,
JACQUELINE LANE ORAZEM, Defendant-Appellant.

         Criminal Appeal from the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2016 SP 000205.

          Dennis J. Ibold and Brian L Bly, Petersen & Ibold, (For Plaintiffs-Appellees).

          Todd E. Petersen, Petersen & Petersen, (For Defendant-Appellant).


          THOMAS R. WRIGHT, J.

         {¶1} Appellant, Jacqueline Lane Orazem, appeals the length of the civil stalking protection order issued against her as a consequence of her actions against appellee, Donna Banfield. Appellant asserts the record lacks evidence supporting the trial court's decision to reject the magistrate's ruling and extend the duration of the order by nine months. We affirm.

         {¶2} The parties live on adjacent properties. Prior to 2011, the parties and their families maintained a cordial relationship. However, animosity developed between the families, leading to the filing of a civil stalking protection proceeding in 2012. That action ended in settlement, under which the parties agreed not to speak. Appellant and her family also agreed to build a fence on their property between their houses. Although both families abided by the "no speak" provision, the fence was not built.

         {¶3} At some point after the dismissal of the first action, appellant and her family began to play loud music from a stereo system in her garage. Appellee claimed the music was so loud that it would shake the windows in her home and drown out the sound of her television. Furthermore, the music was frequently played and multiple neighbors called the sheriffs department to complain.

         {¶4} On the majority of weekdays, appellant's husband turned the system on and opened up the garage door prior to leaving for work at approximately 7:00 a.m. A short time later, appellant would leave to take her daughter to school. Even though no one was home, the music continued to play. Upon returning, appellant usually went inside to work from her home office, making phone calls. Despite this, the loud music would continue to play until approximately 9:00 a.m.

         {¶5} In addition to the music, appellant sometimes videotaped appellee and her husband working in their yard to ensure that appellee did not throw anything onto appellant's property. According to appellee, there were three or four times that appellant drove recklessly when their vehicles happened to be in close proximity on the nearby road. Once, appellant accelerated to pass appellee and her husband, but immediately slammed on her brakes once she was in front of them.

         {¶6} Because appellant's actions continued over a course of three years, appellee and her husband felt that they had become captives in their own home. Appellee further asserted that appellant caused great stress in their lives, leading them to seek psychological treatment.

         {¶7} On March 22, 2016, appellee filed a petition for a civil stalking protection order, pursuant to R.C. 2903.214. That day, a magistrate issued an ex parte temporary order in favor of appellee, her husband, and their two daughters. As part of that order, appellant was not permitted to come within 100 feet of the protected persons.

         {¶8} Thereafter, the magistrate held a three-day evidentiary hearing on the petition. The magistrate found that appellant knowingly engaged in a pattern of behavior that caused appellee and her husband mental distress. The magistrate recommended that the civil stalking protection order be granted against appellant for eighteen months from the issuance of the ex parte order.

         {¶9} Appellant objected to the magistrate's decision, primarily contending that the "mental distress" finding is not supported. In overruling the objections, the trial court concluded that appellant's repeated behavior over a sustained period constitutes mental distress.

         {¶10} The trial court approved the magistrate's decision and issued the civil stalking protection order against appellant, with two modifications. First, the court removed appellee's two daughters from protection because there was no evidence that appellant's conduct was directed at them. Second, although no one objected to the effective date of the protection order, the court modified the effective date to the date of final judgment, i.e., January 12, 2017, rather than the date of ...

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