This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Michelle Elise Carter-Wyman, petitioner,
Curtis Jon Wyman,
Filed April 19, 2005
Hennepin County District Court
File No. HA 04-02047
Michelle Elise Carter-Wyman,
Alan J. Albrecht,
Considered and decided by Willis, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Stoneburner, Judge.
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
This is an appeal from the issuance of a harassment restraining order. Appellant argues that the record does not support the district court’s finding that appellant harassed respondent, that the district court’s findings do not adequately support its order, and that the district court violated appellant’s due-process rights by admitting evidence of events that happened after respondent filed her petition for relief. Because we find no error, we affirm.
On January 10, 2004, at the request of respondent Michelle Carter-Wyman, appellant Curtis Wyman voluntarily moved out of the parties’ marital homestead and into a friend’s house. On February 8, 2004, appellant gave respondent his house keys and garage-door opener, and he no longer had access to the house. Throughout that month, appellant and respondent exchanged phone calls and e-mails that varied in tone and often contained profanity and name-calling. Once, when appellant threatened respondent that he was going to come over and “make [her] life a living hell,” respondent called the Champlin Police Department.
The day after respondent called the police, appellant went to the house to receive and park a trailer of his father’s belongings that he had previously arranged to be delivered to the house. While there, appellant took a garage-door opener and a set of spare keys that included keys to the house and respondent’s car.
Upon realizing that appellant had taken the keys and garage-door opener and that he now had complete access to the house, respondent filed a petition for a harassment restraining order (HRO). The district court granted respondent’s petition, and after a hearing on May 18, 2004, it issued an HRO prohibiting appellant from contacting respondent “in person, by telephone, or by other means or persons.” The district court found “reasonable grounds to believe that [appellant] has engaged in harassment” and specifically noted that appellant repeatedly sent respondent “unwanted emails, letters and voicemails.” Appellant challenges the HRO on appeal.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant first argues that the
record does not support the district court’s finding that he harassed
respondent and that the district court therefore abused its discretion by
issuing an HRO. We use an
abuse-of-discretion standard to review the issuance of an HRO under Minn. Stat.
§ 609.748. Witchell v. Witchell,
606 N.W.2d 730, 731–32 (
A district court may issue an HRO if
it finds, inter alia, that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that [a
person] has engaged in harassment.”
Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subd. 5(a)(3) (2004). Harassment includes “repeated incidents of
intrusive or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that have a substantial adverse
effect or are intended to have a substantial adverse effect on the safety,
security, or privacy of another, regardless of the relationship between the
actor and the intended target.”
argument that the district
abused its discretion by issuing an HRO relies on a definition of harassment
that pre-dates significant amendment in 2000.
He argues that harassment is “repeated, intrusive, or unwanted acts,
words, or gestures that are intended to adversely affect the safety, security,
or privacy of another” and that nothing in the record supports the conclusion
that appellant intended to adversely affect the safety, security, or privacy of
respondent. But since 2000, the statute
has defined harassment to include “repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted
acts, words, or gestures that have a substantial adverse effect or are
intended to have a substantial adverse effect on the safety, security, or
privacy of another.” Minn. Stat.
§ 609.748, subd. 1(a)(1) (emphasis added).
Appellant’s intent was, therefore, irrelevant if his conduct had a
substantial adverse effect on respondent’s safety, security, or privacy.
Respondent testified that appellant left voicemails in which he said that he was “going to make [her] life a living hell” and that he was “coming over that night and [she] can go run and hide.” She also testified that after she received several “nasty” e-mails from appellant and after she blocked his incoming e-mails, appellant printed his e-mails and left them in respondent’s mailbox.
Respondent also testified that the night that the trailer was delivered to the house, appellant repeatedly rang her doorbell, “barged in” uninvited, and stole spare house and car keys and a garage-door opener. She testified that appellant claimed that he had the trailer delivered to the house to harass her. Respondent testified that while appellant helped to park the trailer, he talked to his friends on his phone and made fun of respondent for being frightened of him.
We find that the record supports the district court’s finding that appellant “repeatedly engaged in harassing conduct.” But the statute also requires that these acts “have a substantial adverse effect or are intended to have a substantial adverse effect on the safety, security, or privacy” of respondent. Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subd. 1(a)(1).
Respondent testified that appellant’s comments and conduct adversely affected her security. Respondent also testified that having appellant’s trailer in her driveway was an invasion of her privacy and that it made her feel uncomfortable. In an e-mail to appellant, respondent expressed her fear of appellant and his conduct. The fact that respondent called the police and filed a petition for an HRO shows that appellant’s conduct had a substantial adverse effect on respondent’s safety, security, and privacy. The record supports the district court’s findings that appellant harassed respondent, and we conclude that the district court did not abuse its discretion by issuing an HRO.
Appellant next argues that the district
court did not make adequate findings in support of the HRO. Specifically, he argues that the district
court erred by “failing to make any findings or inadequate
findings concerning domestic abuse.” When trying a case without a jury, a
district court must “find the facts specially and state separately its
conclusions of law thereon.”
The district court found that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that [appellant] has engaged in harassment” and that appellant has “repeatedly engaged in harassing conduct towards [respondent] including sending unwanted emails, letters and voicemails.” The district court could have specified the aspects of those e‑mails, letters, and voicemails that it found to be “harassing conduct,” but because the district court concluded that an HRO was appropriate, we can infer that it found respondent’s testimony to be credible and believed her version of the events.
argument that the court erred by “failing to make any findings or inadequate
findings concerning domestic abuse” is misplaced. Appellant cites Anderson v. Lake, in
which this court observed that the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act and the statute
governing the issuance of HROs are “sufficiently similar so that we may recognize caselaw construing
the former as applicable to the latter.” 536 N.W.2d 909, 911 (
Appellant argues finally that respondent testified at the hearing about events that occurred after she filed her petition for an HRO. Because these events were not described in the petition, he contends that he did not have notice and was denied the opportunity to prepare for the hearing, in violation of his due-process rights. Whether appellant’s due-process rights were violated is a constitutional question, which we review de novo. Zellman ex rel. M.Z. v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 2758, 594 N.W.2d 216, 220 (Minn. App. 1999), review denied (Minn. July 28, 1999).
The district court must conduct a full hearing before issuing an
HRO. Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subds.
3, 5(a)(3) (2004);
At the HRO hearing, both parties presented and cross-examined witnesses and produced documents. Respondent testified, and appellant’s attorney cross-examined her. Appellant also testified, and respondent cross-examined him. Both parties produced and introduced photographs and copies of e-mails. Respondent did testify about events that took place after she filed the petition for an HRO, but appellant was prepared to and did introduce evidence to refute that testimony. After the hearing, the district court decided that appellant’s conduct constituted harassment and issued an HRO. In support of its conclusion that appellant harassed respondent, the district court found that appellant repeatedly sent respondent “unwanted emails, letters and voicemails,” and it did not rely on evidence of post-petition events. We find that the district court held a full hearing as required by Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subds. 3, 5(a)(3), and conclude that appellant’s due-process rights were not violated.