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C V. v. C.R.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 22, 2016

C.V., Appellant,
v.
C.R., Appellee.

         Appeal from the Lake Circuit Court The Honorable Michael A. Sarafin, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 45C01-1602-PO-36

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Mark A. Bates Schererville, Indiana

          APPELLEE, PRO SE C.R.

          Pyle, Judge.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] C.V. appeals the trial court's issuance of a protective order against him in favor of C.R. He argues that the trial court erred because C.R. did not produce sufficient evidence that he stalked her and, therefore, that a protective order was warranted. We agree and reverse the trial court's decision. We remand with instructions to vacate the protective order against C.V.

         [¶2] We reverse and remand with instructions.

         Issue

         Whether there was sufficient evidence to support the trial court's issuance of a protective order against C.V.

         Facts

         [¶3] In July of 2015, C.R. found a note on her car outside of her workplace at the Department of Veterans Affairs ("V.A."). The note "was basically saying things about [her] physical attributes." (Tr. 36). She was able to identify the author as a Marine due to a reference in the note to "Semper-Fi, " but the note did not otherwise contain any identifying information. (Tr. 38). Two weeks later, C.R. found a second note on her car that "said about the same type of thing" as the first note and again lacked any identifying information. (Tr. 37). She filed a report about the note with the V.A. Police, and the police asked her whether she had seen any patients who could have left the notes. She reviewed her patients but could not determine who might have left them.

         [¶4] Seven months later, C.R. found a third note on her car at work. It was "the same type of note, " only "a little bit more kinky." (Tr. 37-38). On another day, she then found a fourth note on her car. After this note, C.R. was able to match the dates on which she had found the four notes with dates that C.V. had visited the V.A. as a patient. She forwarded this information to the officer investigating the notes, and he then confirmed that C.V. had placed the note on C.R.'s car when he reviewed the V.A.'s parking lot surveillance camera footage.[1] This officer, Jeffrey Trama ("Officer Trama"), called C.V., and C.V. admitted that he had left the notes. Officer Trama told C.V. to stop leaving the notes, and C.V. did so.

         [¶5] C.R. did not press criminal charges against C.V., but she filed a pro se petition for an ex parte protective order against him on February 19, 2016.[2] The trial court granted C.R.'s petition on February 22, 2016 and issued the ex parte protective order. However, on March 7, 2016, C.V. requested a hearing on the protective order, and the trial court held a hearing on April 6, 2016.

         [¶6] At the hearing, C.R. appeared pro se, and C.V. appeared represented by counsel. The trial court asked C.R. if she would like to continue the hearing so that she could retain an attorney, and she declined the trial court's offer. The trial court then told C.R.: "All right; well, ma'am, if you proceed to represent yourself, you understand that the rules of evidence apply. Counsel may interpose objections based on those rules of evidence[, ] and you may not be fully trained or versed ...


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