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Turner v. Turner

Supreme Court of Idaho, Twin Falls

December 18, 2013

Rita Jane TURNER, Petitioner-Respondent,
v.
Robert A. TURNER, Respondent-Appellant.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Werth Law Office, PLLC, Hailey, for appellant. Douglas A. Werth argued.

Idaho Legal Aid Services, Inc., Twin Falls, for respondent. Michael F. McCarthy argued.

Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, Boise, as amicus curiae. Annie-Noelle Kerrick argued.

J. JONES, Justice.

In 2011, Rita Turner petitioned the magistrate court for a protection order for her and her son against her then-husband Robert Turner. The magistrate court entered a 90-day order under the Idaho Domestic Violence Prevention Act, finding that there was reasonable cause to believe that bodily harm might result to Rita and her son. Robert appealed to the district court, which affirmed the magistrate court's decision. Robert filed a timely appeal.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Robert and Rita Turner, a then-married couple, separated on June 22, 2011. On August 3, 2011, Robert went to Rita's house to retrieve some fence posts and damaged her fence in the process. After she called him to discuss these events, Robert came to her workplace and told her to " give him some keys" or else he would destroy her property with heavy equipment.

On August 4, 2011, Rita filed a Petition for Protection Order for herself and her son against Robert. In this petition, Rita cited an instance when Robert struck her son on the head, stated that Robert has attempted suicide, and claimed that Robert has entered her house when her children were there alone.

On the same day that Rita filed her petition, the magistrate court issued an ex parte temporary protection order, which was set to expire on August 16, 2011, and scheduled a hearing on the order for August 16, 2011. After a continuance, the magistrate court held an evidentiary hearing on September 7, 2011, at which both parties appeared and

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were represented by counsel. The magistrate court found that cause existed and entered a 90-day protection order, which expired on December 7, 2011. The terms of the 90-day protection order were modified from the terms of the ex parte order to allow Robert to go as close as 100 feet to Rita's place of employment, but no closer. The magistrate court entered this modification because Robert's place of employment and the grocery store were within 200 feet of Rita's place of employment, and the modification was intended to allow Robert to continue to work and go to the grocery store.

Robert appealed the magistrate court's decision to the district court. The district court held oral argument on April 2, 2012 and on April 5, 2012, entered its order affirming the magistrate court's decision. Robert timely appealed to this Court.

II.

ISSUES

1. Whether Idaho courts should apply a clear and convincing evidentiary standard in domestic violence protection order cases?
2. Whether the magistrate court's factual findings were clearly erroneous?
3. Whether either party to the appeal should be awarded costs and attorney fees?

III.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When this Court reviews the decision of a district court sitting in its capacity as an appellate court, the standard of review is as follows:

The Supreme Court reviews the trial court (magistrate) record to determine whether there is substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate's findings of fact and whether the magistrate's conclusions of law follow from those findings. If those findings are so supported and the conclusions follow therefrom and if the district court affirmed the magistrate's decision, we affirm the district court's decision as a matter of procedure.
Bailey v. Bailey, 153 Idaho 526, 529, 284 P.3d 970, 973 (2012) (quoting Losser v. Bradstreet, 145 Idaho 670, 672, 183 P.3d 758, 760 (2008)). Thus, this Court does not review the decision of the magistrate court. Id. " Rather, we are ‘ procedurally bound to affirm or reverse the decisions of the district court.’ " Id. ...

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