Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
C.N., ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS
Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS Carolyn W. Allen
APPELLEE T.D., pro se
BEFORE: Blackmon, J., McCormack, P.J., and Keough, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
PATRICIA ANN BLACKMON, J.
Respondents-appellants, C.N. and B.N. (collectively referred
to as "appellants"), appeal from the trial
court's granting of petitioner-appellee T.D.'s
(referred to as "appellee") petition for a civil
stalking protection order ("CSPO") and from the
trial court's denial of relief from that
Appellants assign the following errors for our review:
I. The trial court abused its discretion when it issued a
CSPO against appellants as the evidence presented failed the
preponderance of the evidence requirement needed for a civil
protection order for menacing by stalking.
II. The trial court abused its discretion when it issued a
CSPO against appellants as the granting of said order was
against the manifest weight of the evidence
III. The trial court abused its discretion when it denied the
appellants' Civ.R. 60(B) motion for relief from judgment
as the terms of the CSPO were overreaching, over-restrictive,
and unsupported by the evidence, thus infringing upon the
appellants' civil and constitutional rights causing them
personal harm and humiliation.
Having reviewed the record and pertinent law, we modify the
CSPO to indicate that appellants are not to be present within
50 feet of appellee. As so modified, the judgment of the
trial court is affirmed. The apposite facts follow.
On May 23, 2017, appellee filed a petition for a CSPO against
appellants. On June 5, 2017, the trial judge issued a
temporary restraining order against appellants. The trial
judge thereafter ordered a full hearing on appellee's
CSPO on June 14, 2017. On June 16, after a three-day hearing,
the trial court issued the following form order:
The Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that 1)
[appellants] knowingly engaged in a pattern of conduct that
caused [appellee] to believe that [appellants] will cause
physical harm or cause or has caused mental distress; and 2)
the following orders are equitable, fair, and necessary to
protect the persons named in this Order from stalking
The trial judge ordered the appellants "not to be
present within 500 feet" of the protected person, which
the order identifies as appellee. The terms of the order are
effective until June 15, 2018.
The facts of this case are not complicated. Although at the
trial of this matter, the appellants highly contested the
allegations of appellee, appellee consistently maintained
that the offending behavior or conduct of appellants, from
April 2014 through November 2015 at Ward 7 council meetings,
continued until it culminated on May 15, 2017. In his
application for a restraining order he stated the following:
[Appellants] on or about May 15, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the
Cuyahoga County Board of Elections located at 2925 Euclid
Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115 approached me bent over while I
was sitting in the chair, she put [her] finger in [my] face
stating, "I'm going to get you!" Then she
proceeded to walk outside the board room. I waited a moment
then walked out of the board meeting and was met by verbal
threats from [appellants] stating, "[You're] going
to get it, wait and see." This culminated over years of
stalking by [appellants], they have come to meetings, acted
unruly, looked at me in a menacing way and [have] driven by
my house multiple times with the purpose of intimidation.
Appellee was elected Cleveland City Councilman of Ward 7 at
the time the incidents occurred. The appellants are citizens
and residents of Ward 7 and attend the council's
Something clearly went wrong between these parties that
resulted in the appellee seeking a restraining order against
the appellants. The trial court heard the evidence of the
parties and their witnesses and concluded that a
preponderance of the evidence established that appellee was
entitled to the CSPO order against the appellants.
The record establishes the following: According to a precinct
committee person, during a precinct meeting at Oriana House,
appellants and a group of individuals ran through the
facility, "hollering and disrupting the meeting that we
just had to close it out." They were also disruptive at
another meeting at the Sight Center.
According to appellee, the disruptive behavior continued from
April 2014 through November 2014, which prompted the ward
club to hire security due to appellants' conduct.
Appellee stated that "they blurt stuff out and they will
reference me." They were "disrespecting" him,
making comments, and threatening comments under their breath.
They would enter into his personal space and look at him in a
threatening way, but did not ask a question or appear to have
a legitimate reason for approaching him. Appellee spoke to a
police liaison about the matter and obtained security for
subsequent meetings. Appellee submitted as exhibits various
invoices to pay for off-duty police officers, who were
present at eight meetings.
Appellee also testified that during a meeting at the Sight
Center in 2016, appellants and their group were so disruptive
that the police officer at the meeting terminated it, and the
Sight Center banned the city from holding further meetings
there. By 2016, the meetings were moved to the third district
police department community room due to security issues.
Additionally, according to appellee, in 2017, appellants
filed a challenge with the Board of Elections disputing his
Cleveland residency, and claiming that he was living and
working in Florida. In April 2017, in response to the
residency challenge, appellee wrote a letter to the Board of
Elections in which he stated that he believed that he had
been menaced by appellants. He wrote:
[T]he complaints seemed to be filed in retaliation for doing
my due diligence of following up on several residents'
complaints. The complaints were concerning drug activity at
[Appellants' residence]. My follow-up on these
allegations was not personal. I did what any councilperson
would do if these allegations were brought to their
Appellee acknowledged that the drug allegations had not been
substantiated. Later, C.N. filed a public records request for
appellee's communications involving them, their property,
and the ward club meetings.
Appellee testified that after the residency challenge was
rejected by the Board of Elections, B.N. "got very mad,
" so she confronted appellee, put her finger in his
face, and threatened that "we're going to get
you." According to appellee, when he walked toward the
exit, appellants ...