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State v. Harrison

Court of Appeals of Oregon

March 14, 2018

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
CRYSTAL DYANN HARRISON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted June 30, 2017.

         Jackson County Circuit Court 15CN02654 Kelly W. Ravassipour, Judge.

          Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, and Sarah Laidlaw, Deputy Public Defender, Office of Public Defense Services, fled the brief for appellant.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Susan Yorke, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

          Before Tookey, Presiding Judge, and Egan, Chief Judge, and Hadlock, Judge.

         Case Summary: Defendant was found in contempt of court for violating a restraining order under the Family Abuse Prevention Act. Defendant appeals the resulting judgment, assigning error to the denial of her motion for judgment of acquittal, arguing that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove that she willfully attempted to contact the petitioner through a third party. Held: The trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal because defendant's conduct constituted attempted "contact" with the petitioner through a third party, and the state presented sufficient evidence from which a rational factfnder could conclude that she willfully attempted to contact the petitioner through a third party.

         Affirmed.

         [290 Or. 767] TOOKEY, P. J.

         Defendant was found in contempt of court, ORS 33.015, for violating a restraining order under the Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA), ORS 107.700 to 107.135. Defendant now appeals the resulting judgment, assigning error to the denial of her motion for judgment of acquittal on Count 2, arguing that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove that she willfully attempted to contact the petitioner through a third party.[1] We conclude that defendant's conduct constituted attempted "contact" with the petitioner through a third party and that the state presented sufficient evidence from which a rational factfnder could conclude that she willfully attempted to contact the petitioner through a third party. Accordingly, we affirm.

         Because defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence to find her in contempt, "we state the facts in the light most favorable to the state." State v. Keller, 246 Or.App. 105, 107, 265 P.3d 48 (2011). The petitioner successfully petitioned for a FAPA restraining order against defendant that prohibited her from "[c]ontacting, or attempting to contact, [the] petitioner in person directly or through third parties."

         The petitioner was riding the bus to work. When defendant boarded the bus and saw the petitioner, she motioned for the bus driver to speak with her outside of the bus. Defendant and the bus driver talked outside for about one minute. When their conversation ended, the bus driver approached the petitioner, "[a]t the request of [defendant], " and told him that "[defendant] wants you to get off the bus." The petitioner responded, "I'm already on the bus. I'm on my way to work." The bus driver returned to defendant and said, "Well, I can't really make [the petitioner] leave." Defendant remained outside, and the bus driver sat back down and drove off with the petitioner on the bus.

         [290 Or. 768] The petitioner contacted the police to report a violation of the FAPA order, and the state charged defendant with two counts of contempt of court. As relevant here, Count 2 alleged that defendant "willfully disobey[ed] an order of the Jackson County Circuit Court by * * * attempting third party contact with [the petitioner]." At the contempt hearing, defendant acknowledged that her "actions * * * indicate knowledge that if she sees the protected party she's not supposed to have contact with him" or "contact through a third party." Defendant argued, however, that the court could not find her in contempt for willfully attempting third party contact with the petitioner because defendant was "not sending a message to [the petitioner], [she was] sending a message to the bus driver not trying to get [the petitioner] a message, trying to get him off the bus so that she [could] get on." The trial court found defendant in contempt on Count 2 for attempting third party contact.[2]

         On appeal, defendant reprises her argument that "[t]he trial court erred in failing to enter a judgment of acquittal on Count 2" because "[t]he state failed to present evidence that defendant intended the bus driver to contact [the] petitioner for her and, thus, it failed to meet its burden of proving that defendant 'willfully' violated the restraining order."[3] The state argues that it "introduced sufficient evidence to allow a rational juror to reasonably infer that defendant willfully contacted [the] petitioner through a third party, in violation of the restraining order."

         "We review the denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal to determine whether, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the state, a rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the offense proved beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Trivitt, 247 Or.App. 199, 203, 268 P.3d 765 (2011) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). ORS 33.015(2)(b) defines "contempt of court" [290 Or. 769] to include "[d]isobedience of, resistance to or obstruction of the court's authority, process, orders, or judgments" when "done willfully." We have stated that, "[t]o prove contempt, the state must establish the existence of a valid court order, the defendant's knowledge of that order, and the defendant's willful noncompliance with that order." State v. Beleke,287 Or.App. 417, 421, 403 P.3d 481, rev den,362 Or. 208 (2017). Here, defendant does not dispute that there was a valid FAPA order or assert that she did not know about the order. Nor does defendant dispute the proposition that a violation of the FAPA order would occur if she willfully attempted to contact the petitioner through a third party. Rather, defendant's argument centers on whether the record includes evidence of a ...


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