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Roer v. Dunham

June 29, 2004

KAREN P. ROER, PETITIONER, RESPONDENT,
v.
DEBRA ALI DUNHAM, APPELLANT.



Hennepin County District Court. HA 01-08228.

Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Anderson, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*fn1

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Under Minn. Stat. § 609.748 (2002), a court may not extend a restraining order beyond two years from the date of the initial restraining order.

2. Findings that identify only one incident of harassment are insufficient to support a restraining order issued under Minn. Stat. § 609.748, subd. 5(a) (2002).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Peterson, Judge

Reversed

OPINION

In this appeal from a restraining order, appellant argues that the district court misconstrued Minn. Stat. § 609.748 (2002) to allow the district court to extend the duration of a restraining order for more than two years. We reverse.

FACTS

In June 2001, respondent Karen P. Roer brought a petition seeking a harassment restraining order against appellant Debra Ali Dunham. The district court found that Dunham engaged in specific acts of harassment against Roer and issued a two-year restraining order effective until August 29, 2003, prohibiting Dunham from harassing Roer and from having any direct contact with her.

In July 2003, Roer filed a motion to extend the restraining order for an additional two-year period, until August 29, 2005. The district court conducted an evidentiary hearing on Roer's motion. The court ruled that it would consider only events that occurred after a related criminal trial against Dunham, which took place in October 2002. Dunham was acquitted in the criminal proceeding.

Roer presented evidence regarding four incidents of alleged harassment that occurred following the criminal trial. Shortly after the criminal trial, Dunham sent a letter to members of the Wayzata Country Club and members of Roer's church. Appended to the letter was a copy of Dunham's attorney's closing argument in the criminal proceeding, which referred to Roer as "a liar and a cheat." In January 2003, Dunham sent a second letter to members of the Wayzata Country Club, appended to which was a letter from Dunham's attorney referring to an affair between Roer and Dunham's husband. Roer testified about two incidents, one that occurred at her church on May 7, 2003, and one that occurred after Roer drove through Dunham's neighborhood on May 8, 2003.

The court issued an order extending the restraining order for one year until August 29, ...


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