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Pinkston v. White

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Twelfth District, Butler

December 16, 2019

MICHAELA PINKSTON, Appellee,
v.
AARON WHITE, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM BUTLER COUNTY COURT OF COMMON PLEAS DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION Case No. DV18-08-0420

          Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, Alexandra Winters, for appellee

          Berry & Karl, LLC, Kristie A. Karl, for appellant

          OPINION

          PIPER, J.

         {¶ 1} Respondent-appellant, Aaron White, appeals from the decision of the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division, granting a domestic violence civil protection order ("DVCPO") against him in favor of petitioner-appellee, Michaela Pinkston. For the reasons outlined below, we affirm the trial court's decision.[1]

         {¶ 2} In August 2017, Pinkston and White began a sexual relationship, which resulted in the birth of A.W. in July 2018. Thereafter, on August 6, 2018, Pinkston petitioned for, and was granted, an ex parte DVCPO for herself and A.W. In the petition, Pinkston alleged that an altercation occurred between the parties when she went to White's home to retrieve some of A.W.'s belongings. Upon arriving at White's home, Pinkston discovered that a "friend" of White's, who was later identified as White's girlfriend, was present. According to Pinkston, she was conversing with White's girlfriend when White suddenly began "choking" Pinkston and attempted to "slam" her to the ground. Pinkston stated White continued to choke her and dug his nail into her skin. She further alleged that White said "I will break your face" and tried to "bang" her head against a trailer. Pinkston then claimed White took A.W. from his "seat" and would "not give him back" until the police arrived. Pinkston stated she was afraid to take A.W. away from White without police assistance.

         {¶ 3} In October 2018, a two-day final domestic violence hearing was held before a magistrate. Pinkston, White, White's mother, White's neighbor, White's girlfriend, and one of the responding officers testified at the hearing. After the hearing, the magistrate denied Pinkston's request for a DVCPO and dismissed the ex parte DVCPO on the merits. In her written decision, the magistrate found that Pinkston had failed to prove, by the preponderance of the evidence, that White engaged in acts or behaviors that constituted domestic violence as defined in R.C. 3113.31(A)(1)(a) and/or R.C. 3113.31(A)(1)(b). The trial court then adopted the magistrate's denial of the DVCPO and ordered the ex parte DVCPO to be dismissed for lack of evidence. Pinkston filed objections to the dismissal of her request for a DVCPO. In her objections, Pinkston argued the trial court erred in dismissing her petition because White's actions constituted domestic violence as defined in R.C. 3113.31(A)(1)(a)(i), as the evidence showed White attempted to cause bodily harm to Pinkston. Pinkston further claimed that the magistrate's decision mischaracterized the testimony provided by White's neighbor and failed to give "enough weight" to the testimony of an unbiased witness.

         {¶ 4} After a hearing, the trial court overruled the decision denying the final DVCPO, finding that a denial of a DVCPO was inappropriate based on the facts in evidence and the transcript of the hearing. As such, the trial court issued a DVCPO and named Pinkston as the sole person protected by the order.

         {¶ 5} White now appeals, raising two assignments of error. For ease of discussion, White's assignments of error will be addressed together.

         {¶ 6} Assignment of Error No. 1:

         {¶ 7} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW BY REVIEWING THE MAGISTRATE'S DENIAL OF DVCPO PURSUANT TO CIV.R. 53.

         {¶ 8} Assignment of Error No. 2:

         {¶ 9} THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW WHEN IT OVERRULED THE MAGISTRATE'S DENIAL OF A CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER AND ISSUED A CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER.

         {¶ 10} White initially argues the trial court erred in denying the DVCPO pursuant to Civ.R. 53, rather than the applicable Civ.R. 65.1. Specifically, White claims the trial court improperly conducted a de novo review pursuant to Civ.R. 53 and therefore ...


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