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State v. Meek

Court of Appeals of Oregon

October 29, 2014

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JEFFERY LEE MEEK, Defendant-Appellant

Submitted March 19, 2014

Lane County Circuit Court. 211200311, 211200312. Josephine H. Mooney, Judge.

Peter Gartlan, Chief Defender, and Emily P. Seltzer, Deputy Public Defender, Office of Public Defense Services, filed the brief for appellant.

Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Anna M. Joyce, Solicitor General, and Rebecca M. Auten, Assistant Attorney General, filed the brief for respondent.

Before Duncan, Presiding Judge, and Haselton, Chief Judge, and Wollheim, Judge.

OPINION

[266 Or.App. 551] HASELTON, C. J.

Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for violating a stalking protective order (SPO), ORS 163.750, and an adjudication finding defendant in contempt of court, ORS 33.065, both in connection with a letter defendant sent to a person protected by an SPO.[1] Defendant assigns error to, inter alia, the trial court's denial of defendant's motions for judgment of acquittal (MJOAs) on both charges. As explained below, we conclude that defendant was entitled to acquittal on both charges because, while the state charged defendant with causing an " object " to be delivered to the protected person, the evidence at trial showed only that defendant had sent a letter to that person, and a " written communication," ORS 163.730(3)(d), is not an " object" for purposes of ORS 163.750(1)(c). Accordingly, we reverse the judgment as to both charges.[2]

The relevant facts, for purposes of our review of the denial of the motions for judgment of acquittal, are undisputed. Defendant and the complainant, M, dated. After their relationship ended, defendant sent M hundreds of e-mails and text messages and, on at least one occasion, sat outside M's house and refused to leave. M eventually sought an SPO, which the trial court issued in February 2011. The final SPO barred defendant fro " any contacts" with M, and, as relevant here, explicitly defined prohibited

Page 768

" contacts" as including " sending or making written communications in any form to [M]," and " delivering directly or through a third person any object to the home, property, place of work or school of [M]." [3]

On December 12, 2011, defendant sent a letter, via the postal service, to M's residence. The letter, which was directed to M and her family, read:

[266 Or.App. 552] " I'm deeply sorry for what I put you and your family through as well as my own. Words cannot express how truly sorry I[ ] am for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience I've caused you. I would give my life to protect you. I was repulsively selfish in my actions and didn't understand God's Love. His love is for us to put others needs before our own and to forgive one another.
" I have and will continue to leave you alone in peace. A second chance is all I ask to be free from you and to live life once more. I write you in the hope that we may place our anger and bitterness aside and to forgive one another as [our] Heavenly Father would and move on.
" Sincerely,
" Very Respectfully,
" [defendant's signature]
" 2 Corinthians 2:5-11"

M received the letter on December 15, 2011, and promptly reported it to the police. Shortly thereafter, defendant was charged by information with violating the SPO, ORS 163.750 (Count 1), and contempt of court, ORS 33.065 (Count 2). With respect to Count 1, the original charging instrument alleged that defendant violated the SPO " by sending or making written communication to [M], thereby creating a reasonable apprehension regarding the person[al] safety of [M]." (Emphasis added.) With respect to Count 2, the information alleged ...


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