Wabasha County District Court File No. C902645
Considered and decided by Anderson, Presiding Judge, Halbrooks, Judge, and
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Parker, Judge*fn1
Concurring specially, Anderson, Judge
In this harassment restraining order dispute, appellant argues that: (1) the district court's use of a form order rendered its ruling defective for lack of specific findings; (2) the restraining order is defective because it is not based on "repeated" incidents as required by Minn. Stat. § 609.748; (3) the restraining order's requirement that appellant "stay away" from respondents and their employees is vague and overbroad; and (4) the restraining order violates Minn. Stat. § 554.03 because it is based on appellant's attempts to obtain favorable government action on a real estate matter. Because the district court did not abuse discretion in issuing the harassment restraining order, we affirm.
A harassment restraining order is reviewed under an abuse-of-discretion standard. Witchell v. Witchell, 606 N.W.2d 730, 731-32 (Minn. App. 2000). The district court may grant a restraining order if "the court finds at the hearing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent has engaged in harassment." Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subd. 5(a)(3) (2002).
Appellant argues that the district court's order is defective for lack of specific findings because the district court used a preprinted harassment restraining-order form and checked off four boxes regarding appellant making uninvited visits, making threats, frightening petitioner, and calling petitioner abusive names, and that the order should therefore not be upheld.
The district court must make specific findings as to allegations of harassment before it may issue a restraining order. See Mechtel v. Mechtel, 528 N.W.2d 916, 920-21 (Minn. App. 1995). Findings are required in order "to permit meaningful review upon appeal and it is therefore necessary that trial courts find facts and state conclusions clearly and specifically." Crowley Co., Inc. v. Metro. Airports Comm'n, 394 N.W.2d 542, 545 (Minn. App. 1986) (quotation omitted).
We conclude that the boxes on the form are marginally specific enough in their language to serve as particularized findings sufficient for purposes of appellate review. In addition to the checked boxes, the district court made an entry regarding assault, offensive and indecent conduct, and trespass. Further, review of the hearing transcript shows that there is evidence to support respondents' claims of harassment on October 19 and 26, 2002.
The district court's decision also turned on credibility determinations between appellant on one hand and The Residences at the Jewel (the Jewel) project manager Gene Glander and respondents' employee Richard Arnett on the other regarding the October 26 incident, and between appellant and Myron Lowther regarding the October 19 incident. Because we give due regard to the district court's opportunity to weigh the credibility of witnesses, Sefkow v. Sefkow, 427 N.W.2d 203, 210 (Minn. 1988), we see no reason to disturb the district court's credibility determinations.
While the use of the form can present serious problems, we understand that its use is justified on the practical grounds of judicial economy considering the court's full and long calendars. The ...