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Doe v. Doe

Supreme Court of Idaho

September 15, 2016

JANE DOE (2016-1), Petitioner-Respondent,
JOHN DOE, Respondent-Appellant.

         2016 Opinion No. 104

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Andrew Ellis, Magistrate Judge.

         The order of the magistrate court is affirmed.

          Eismann Law Offices, Nampa, for appellant. Debra L. Eismann argued.

          Jane Doe, Meridian, pro se respondent.

          HORTON, JUSTICE.

         John Doe was involved in a physical altercation with his sixteen year old daughter, C.G., resulting in C.G. sustaining a concussion and cervical strain. The magistrate court entered a civil protection order, which it subsequently modified. John Doe appeals from these orders. John Doe argues that the magistrate court erred when it determined that there was an "immediate and present danger of domestic violence" warranting issuance of the protection order and that the court abused its discretion when it specified that the protection order would be in effect for a year. We affirm.


         John Doe and Jane Doe are the father and mother of C.G., a child born in 1999, and share joint legal and physical custody of C.G. The parties' briefing before this Court present markedly different accounts of the events of August 22, 2015, which resulted in the issuance of a protection order ("the incident"). Our description of the incident is primarily based on the evidence presented to the magistrate judge in the form of medical records, a report of a child protection investigation[1] and John Doe's testimony.

         There was significant conflict between John Doe and Jane Doe regarding custody and visitation issues regarding C.G. both before and after a three-day custody trial in January of 2015. That trial resulted in John Doe receiving visitation with C.G. on alternating weekends and extended visitation over certain holidays and during the summer. Before the incident, C.G. had been exhibiting troubling symptomatology, including self-harm by cutting herself, anger, and depression, which culminated with her running away from her mother's home the week before the incident. In the child protection investigator's view, C.G.'s difficulties appeared "to be in direct correlation to the ongoing tension between her parents."

         On August 22, 2015, C.G. was visiting her father's home. John Doe, his wife and C.G. attended a rodeo. Over the course of the day tension developed between C.G. and John Doe. C.G. reported to her mother that John Doe had been drinking. The Doe family returned home after 11 p.m. C.G. was upset upon their return and went outside to telephone her mother. When she returned inside, John Doe attempted to speak with her, but C.G. refused to speak with him and went to her room. Around 11:30 p.m., John Doe went into C.G.'s room to talk with her about why she was upset. Apparently still unwilling to speak with John Doe, C.G. put earbuds in her ears, turned up the volume of the music playing on her cell phone, and rolled over on her bed, turning her back to John Doe.

         John Doe had imposed restrictions on C.G.'s cell phone use in his home, and C.G. was required to turn her cell phone off and put it away at bedtime. John Doe removed the earbuds from C.G.'s ears and told her that she needed to put the cell phone away and go to bed. C.G. responded with a curse ("F*** you"). John Doe then snatched the cell phone from her. C.G. attempted to wrestle it back which resulted in a physical altercation. C.G. bit John Doe twice. John Doe told C.G. that if she kept biting him he would "smack" her. C.G. continued biting him and John Doe "smacked her a couple of times" to cause her to stop biting him.

         John Doe's wife entered the room and took the phone, agitating C.G. further. John Doe then attempted to hold onto C.G., explaining that he did so because he was concerned that C.G. might run away because she was angry. John Doe's attempts to restrain her prompted C.G. to bite him again. He "smacked her again" and she ceased biting him. John Doe testified that he never became angry or lost his temper during the incident.

         C.G. called Jane Doe afterwards to report that John Doe "had smacked her in the head." The next morning, C.G. did not feel well and Jane Doe asked John Doe to take C.G. to the emergency room, which he did. The examining physician concluded that C.G. "suffered concussion and cervical strain."

         On August 25, 2015, Jane Doe filed a petition for a protection order on behalf of C.G., seeking protection from John Doe. On August 26, 2015, the magistrate court issued a temporary ex parte protection order and issued an order for a child protection investigation.

         On September 9, 2015, the magistrate court held a hearing on the protection order. The magistrate judge interviewed C.G. outside of her parents' presence, but did not discuss the incident with her. Rather, the magistrate judge inquired as to C.G.'s wishes regarding the issuance of a protection order and her views as to her future relationship with her father. At the conclusion of the hearing, the magistrate court found that the preponderance of the evidence established an immediate and present danger of domestic violence and entered a protection order prohibiting all contact between John Doe and C.G. for one year.

         On September 23, 2015, John Doe filed a motion for reconsideration or in the alternative a motion to modify the protection order. On October 9, 2015, the magistrate court held a hearing on John Doe's motion. The magistrate court denied John Doe's motion for reconsideration and modified the protection order to permit unlimited telephone phone contact between John Doe and C.G. and attendance and participation in a parenting class. On December 2, 2015, the magistrate court ...

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