Carolyn Anne H. v. Robert H., 2–15–0409.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation45 N.E.3d 713
Docket NumberNo. 2–15–0409.,2–15–0409.
PartiesCAROLYN ANNE H., Petitioner–Appellant, v. ROBERT H., Respondent–Appellee.
Decision Date03 December 2015

45 N.E.3d 713

CAROLYN ANNE H., Petitioner–Appellant
ROBERT H., Respondent–Appellee.

No. 2–15–0409.

Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District.

Dec. 3, 2015.

45 N.E.3d 714

Brandi L. Chudoba, Chudoba Law Firm, LLC, Stillman Valley, for appellant.

No brief filed for appellee.


Presiding Justice SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 Petitioner, Carolyn Anne H., appeals a judgment denying her petition under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 (Act) (750 ILCS 60/ 101 et seq. (West 2014)) for an order of protection against respondent, Robert H., her husband. Petitioner argues that (1) the judgment is against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (2) the trial court erred in allowing respondent to question petitioner about her mental state as it existed after the incidents on which her petition was based. We reverse and remand with directions.

¶ 2 Petitioner and respondent were married April 20, 2002, and have two children: a son, R.J., born June 11, 2010, and a daughter, A., born May 23, 2013. On January 6, 2015, petitioner filed for an order of protection. At that time, the family resided in a house in Byron. The petition alleged that “[e]motional and physical abuse ha[d] been an ongoing thing for some time” and, specifically, that that morning respondent had “physically push[ed] [petitioner] into the corner of the cabinet” and bruised her elbow during their confrontation over whether she could

45 N.E.3d 715

have access to the keys to the family's only car. The petition alleged further that petitioner called the police and that an officer came over and later arrested respondent. The petition requested that respondent be prohibited from harassing petitioner; that he be ordered to stay away from their house; that she be granted possession of the car; and that he be ordered to make available a monetary gift over which he now had control.

¶ 3 On January 6, 2015, the trial court issued an emergency order of protection, effective until January 27, 2015. On January 27, 2015, the court entered a modified order, effective until February 24, 2015, that allowed the parties to communicate by telephone about finances and the children. On February 24, 2015, the court extended the order until April 7, 2015, and set that date for a hearing on petitioner's petition.

¶ 4 We summarize the evidence from the April 7, 2015, hearing. On direct examination, petitioner testified as follows. The parties had been residing at their current home for almost a year and a half; previously, they had lived with respondent's mother, and before then in San Diego. Respondent was a machinist, but had been a military policeman in the Navy, where he was trained in restraint techniques, such as the use of “pressure point tactics.”

¶ 5 Petitioner testified that, on the morning of January 6, 2015, respondent came home from work, and she went to the grocery store. When she returned, he went to the driveway in order to close the garage door. He noticed that petitioner had not pushed back the rear driver's-side seat, as was necessary to give A. sufficient room. (According to the emergency order of protection, respondent was six feet 2 inches tall and weighed 285 pounds.) Petitioner and respondent argued over the car seat. She said that he should not complain about her failure to move the seat back, since he never gave her the courtesy of moving it forward. Respondent called her “the most ungrateful housewife he ever knew or ever met” and disparaged her intelligence. She laughed and told him to “[j]ust go to bed and stop.” Respondent continued to insult her. At this point, he was standing in the doorway to the second floor, where their bedroom was, and she was standing in the kitchen, six to eight feet away.

¶ 6 Petitioner testified that she told respondent that he was “not going to do this anymore,” i.e., verbally and emotionally abuse her. He asked sarcastically whether she had gotten the idea from her sister Jackie. Petitioner responded that the idea came from a domestic-violence website that she had visited “ ‘the night that [he] smashed all those dishes in the sink.’ ” Respondent then “snapped” and told petitioner that she could not have the car anymore, because he was going to take the keys away from her. Petitioner protested that she needed the car, but he grabbed her purse, which was sitting on a chair in the playroom, and removed the keys.

¶ 7 Petitioner testified that she and respondent continued to argue; she insisted that she would need the car, and he responded that, when she did, she could wake him and he would give her the keys. She said that this was unacceptable. They continued to argue, moving from the playroom into the kitchen. Eventually, petitioner tried to “get the key out of his hand or get the key ring out of his hands, and he shoved [her] and [she] hit [her] right elbow on a cabinet” that they used for a pantry. The push bruised her right elbow. They went through the baby gate to the landing of the staircase to the basement. At that point, petitioner “kind of had [her] hands on the keys trying to get them out of his hands.” Respondent told her that he was bigger and stronger than she was

45 N.E.3d 716

and that she would not get the keys. He then used a “pressure-point tactic” by placing his thumbnail into hers; her hands flew back, she screamed, and she said that she would call the police. He laughed and told her to go ahead.

¶ 8 At trial, petitioner identified photographs that she had taken with her iPhone, depicting the bruise to her elbow. The first photograph was taken the day of the incident and the others were taken over the following five days. Also, she identified two photographs of the injury to her thumbnail. She testified that this injury lasted until about February 11, 2015.

¶ 9 Petitioner testified further that, after using the pressure to her thumbnail, respondent entered the basement while she went to the playroom, took her phone from her purse, walked to the front doorway, and called 911. Respondent returned upstairs and put the chain with her keys back into her purse. He was within hearing distance of her call. He went to the bedroom and “canceled” her call; petitioner could not dial out, although the call to 911 went through. Shortly afterward, Officer Kevin Most arrived, and respondent was arrested.

¶ 10 Petitioner testified that January 6, 2015, was not the first time that respondent had been physically violent to her. The first time that she could recall was in 2008 or 2009, when they were living in Maryland. During an argument, respondent punched a closet door about four to six inches from where petitioner was standing. The punch damaged the door. The next violent incident was in 2010, when they were living in San Diego and R.J. was three weeks old. Petitioner was taking care of R.J. around the clock. Respondent was working, and he refused to help her on his days off. One Friday, they argued because she wanted him to stay home and he wanted to go to his lodge meeting. He called her an “entitled bitch” and “ ‘ungrateful.’ ”

¶ 11 Petitioner testified that, after they moved to another home in San Diego, respondent, who was working part time, became angry at her for failing to inform him in advance of her dentist's appointment. The attached garage had a door; respondent slammed it in petitioner's face. The next incident occurred in October 2012 at the same address, when they were in the bedroom and petitioner was holding R.J. in her hands. They argued. He called her a “fucking bitch” and went downstairs. She followed him. He ripped out a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs, then threw baby toys all over the house, denting the walls. Respondent identified a video showing the damage. The court admitted the video into evidence.

¶ 12 Petitioner testified that respondent had also abused her verbally and emotionally on other occasions. He had called her “a horrible mother”; called her a “bitch” before the children; told her that she was “entitled” and “ungrateful,” and, once, told her (to her best recollection), “ ‘R.J. is a fucking asshole and everyone thinks it, and it's all your fault because you've been his caretaker.’ ” There were “a million different [other] things” that he had told her “to beat [her] down.”

¶ 13 Petitioner also testified that, in 2013, while they were living with respondent's mother, petitioner asked him to take care of A. while she went to the grocery store. He told her that she was not going to leave him, and then “[h]e was out of here.” She tried to block his way. He came at her, picked her up, and shoved her as she was holding a gallon of milk. She fell to the floor. Both children were there, and R.J. said, “ ‘Oh, no, Mama. Are you okay?’ ” Petitioner ran after respondent as he went out the front door. She told him that he could not leave in that situation.

45 N.E.3d 717

Respondent got into the car and drove away. Petitioner called respondent's mother, who came over with her husband. They checked out petitioner. She had a red mark underneath her armpit, but no other visible injury.

¶ 14 Petitioner testified next that, on the morning of December 24, 2014, R.J. ran upstairs and woke...

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