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Powell v. Lawson

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

December 5, 2019

Bryant O. Powell, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Ashley N. Lawson, Defendant-Appellee

          APPEALS from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, Juvenile Branch, C.P.C. No. 10JU-17377

          The Anelli Law Firm, LLC, and Dianna M. Anelli, for appellant. Argued: Dianna M. Anelli.

          Mark K. Sabath; Williams & Schoenberger Co., LLC, and Susan S.R. Petro, for appellee. Argued: Susan S.R. Petro.

          DECISION

          BROWN, J.

         {¶ 1} In these consolidated appeals, Bryant O. Powell ("father"), plaintiff-appellant, appeals from several judgments of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, Juvenile Branch. In a March 21, 2018 judgment, the trial court denied father's "Motion to Recuse" the magistrate (more properly a motion for disqualification of magistrate, pursuant to Civ.R. 53(D)(6), infra). In an April 23, 2018 judgment, the trial court overruled father's objections to a magistrate's decision deciding numerous motions. In a January 21, 2016, judgment, the trial court denied several of father's motions regarding a December 10, 2015 magistrate's order granting a motion to Nos. 18AP-289 and 18aP-360 2 quash. In a May 21, 2015 judgment, the trial court denied several of father's motions regarding a March 18, 2015 magistrate's order that addressed various guardian ad litem ("GAL") issues.

         {¶ 2} Father and Ashley N. Lawson ("mother"), defendant-appellee, were never married. Mother gave birth to their son on August 26, 2006. Father lives in California and mother lives in Ohio. On January 4, 2012, the parties entered into an agreed judgment entry, which designated mother as the sole residential parent and legal custodian and granted father parenting time.

         {¶ 3} On May 5, 2014, father filed a motion to reallocate parental rights and responsibilities. Three years and many, many pleadings later, a 17-day hearing was held before a magistrate on the motion to reallocate, as well as numerous other motions, which will be discussed in the assignments of error as necessary.

         {¶ 4} After the trial before the magistrate concluded, father filed a motion to recuse the magistrate.

         {¶ 5} On February 13, 2018, with regard to the motion to reallocate parental rights and responsibilities, the magistrate issued a decision. Both parties filed objections to the magistrate's decision. The parties did not file a transcript of the 17-day hearing to support their objections.

         {¶ 6} On February 28, 2018, father's motion to recuse the magistrate was heard by the trial court. At trial, four witnesses testified on behalf of father as to the magistrate's alleged bias. On March 21, 2018, the trial court denied father's motion to recuse the magistrate.

         {¶ 7} On April 23, 2018, the trial court overruled both parties' objections to the magistrate's February 13, 2018 decision. Father appealed both judgments. In these consolidated appeals, father asserts the following assignments of error, renumbered sequentially for ease of discussion:

[I.] The trial court abused its discretion in failing to recuse Magistrate Reedus.
[II.] The trial court erred when it ruled that the evidence did not show that Magistrate Reedus harbored a hostile feeling or spirit of ill will toward Bryant and Ms. Anelli.

Nos. 18AP-289 and 18aP-360 3

[III.] The trial court erred when it ruled that Magistrate Reedus had not formed fixed anticipatory judgments on several issues of fact.
[IV.] The trial court abused its discretion when it failed to conduct a de novo review of the magistrate's decision.
[V.] The trial court erred in holding Bryant in Contempt for failure to pay child support and/or failure to pay uncovered medical expenses.
[VI.] The trial court erred in sanctioning Bryant $2, 500 payable to Ashley for increasing GAL fees for requesting the GAL's removal.
[VII.] The trial court abused its discretion when it made findings about child support that were not supported by the record.
[VIII.] The trial court abused its discretion in quashing plaintiffs subpoenas seeking cash flow documentation for child support calculation purposes.
[IX.] The trial court abused its discretion when it failed to hold Ashley in contempt for failure * * * to ensure telephone calls and visitation with Bryant.
[X.] The trial court violated plaintiffs fundamental Due Process and Equal Protection rights when it reduced Bryant's parenting time from one weekend per month to one weekend per ...

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