Corona-Leyva v. Hartman, 20200948-CA

CourtCourt of Appeals of Utah
Writing for the CourtTENNEY, Judge
Citation509 P.3d 236
Parties Sergio CORONA-LEYVA, Appellee, v. Jesus HARTMAN, Appellant.
Docket Number20200948-CA
Decision Date07 April 2022

509 P.3d 236

Sergio CORONA-LEYVA, Appellee,
v.
Jesus HARTMAN, Appellant.

No. 20200948-CA

Court of Appeals of Utah.

Filed April 7, 2022


Sara Pfrommer, Park City, Ronald D. Wilkinson, Provo, and Nathan S. Shill, Orem, Attorneys for Appellant

Sergio Corona-Leyva, Appellee Pro Se

Judge Ryan D. Tenney authored this Opinion, in which Judges Jill M. Pohlman and Ryan M. Harris concurred.

Opinion

TENNEY, Judge:

¶1 Sergio Corona-Leyva obtained a civil stalking injunction against Jesus Hartman. By statute, the district court was required to determine that Hartman's "course of conduct" "would cause a reasonable person ... to fear for the person's own safety or the safety of a third person." Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-106.5(2) (LexisNexis Supp. 2021).1 And in Baird v. Baird , 2014 UT 08, ¶ 26, 322 P.3d 728, the supreme court emphasized that a district court must apply an "individualized objective standard" to this element.

¶2 In granting the injunction in this case, however, the district court found that the fear element had been met because of the subjective fears of Corona-Leyva and his neighbor. We accordingly reverse and remand

509 P.3d 238

so that the court can apply the correct standard.

BACKGROUND2

¶3 Utah Code section 78B-7-701 outlines the process for obtaining a civil stalking injunction. First, "an individual who believes that the individual is the victim of stalking may file a verified written petition for a civil stalking injunction against the alleged stalker." Utah Code Ann. § 78B-7-701(1)(a) (LexisNexis Supp. 2021). A district court can then issue "an ex parte civil stalking injunction" if "the court determines that there is reason to believe that an offense of stalking has occurred." Id. § 78B-7-701(3)(a). "Within 10 days after the day on which" the "ex parte civil stalking injunction is served, the respondent is entitled to request, in writing, an evidentiary hearing on the civil stalking injunction." Id. § 78B-7-701(4). At the evidentiary hearing, "the court may modify, revoke, or continue the injunction. The burden is on the petitioner to show by a preponderance of the evidence that stalking of the petitioner by the respondent has occurred." Id. § 78B-7-701(5).

¶4 In September 2020, Sergio Corona-Leyva petitioned for a civil stalking injunction against Jesus Hartman, who was dating Corona-Leyva's estranged wife. The petition covered both Corona-Leyva and his daughter (Daughter). After Corona-Leyva filed his petition, the district court granted an ex parte civil stalking injunction against Hartman, and the injunction covered both Corona-Leyva and Daughter. Hartman then timely requested an evidentiary hearing.

¶5 The court held the evidentiary hearing in November 2020. At that hearing, Corona-Leyva represented himself and presented testimony from, among others, his neighbor, Daughter, and himself. These witnesses each corroborated Corona-Leyva's claim that Hartman was stalking him.

¶6 For example, Corona-Leyva's neighbor testified that she had "seen [Hartman] on numerous occasions sitting out in front of [her] house, down [her] street." She said that she "called [the police] on numerous occasions due to the fact that [she didn't] feel safe with him just sitting out there." The neighbor also explained that when she first saw Hartman, she had "no idea who he was" and that she didn't "feel comfortable having just a random car sitting" on her street "by where [her] kids [were] playing."

¶7 The court asked the neighbor "how many times before September 8" she had "notice[d] him before [she] finally called the police." The neighbor responded, "Probably at least 20 times." When the court asked her how many times she had seen Hartman since calling the police on September 8, 2019, she replied, "Numerous times. I would say easily 25, 30 times." She also explained that although she hadn't seen Hartman "as much" in the "past few months," she had "still ... seen him drive through."

¶8 The court also questioned the neighbor about how she knew it was Hartman "when he's just driving by." The neighbor explained that "there's suspicious behavior that he does, where he pulls up next to [her] house, will sit there for 10, 15 minutes, and then slowly creep down the road, and then race down past." She said that "[a] lot of the times he does have windows open, a lot of times he has his music blaring." The neighbor also identified Hartman, who was present for the virtual hearing, as "the same one who sat out in the cars."

¶9 Daughter testified next. She explained that she lived with her dad (Corona-Leyva), and that she didn't have parent-time with her mom (who was living with Hartman) because Hartman "just [didn't] make [her] feel safe." Daughter also testified that she had seen Hartman "park and drive by" her dad's house "[a] lot of times." When the court asked if Hartman was driving by Corona-Leyva's house to visit her, Daughter said, "No." Daughter also explained that she knew it was Hartman driving by because he drives "kind of like crazy, or he just like slowly

509 P.3d 239

drives past and stops." She additionally testified that his driving was "really suspicious." But when the court asked if she "need[ed] a stalking injunction" against Hartman, Daughter responded, "No."

¶10 Corona-Leyva testified next, explaining that Hartman used to drive by his house "every other day" and would park outside his house "numerous time[s] half an hour to an hour." He also testified that there was no reason for Hartman to be on his street because "it's a dead end" and because Hartman didn't need to drop off Corona-Leyva's children. He further explained that Hartman continued to come to his house "all the time," even after Corona-Leyva's wife and other children moved in with Hartman.

¶11 After Corona-Leyva presented his case, Hartman called several witnesses, including his parents, his sister, himself, and a licensed clinical psychologist. In contrast to Corona-Leyva's witnesses, Hartman's witnesses testified that Hartman was afraid of Corona-Leyva and that Hartman only went to Corona-Leyva's house to pick up his girlfriend and her children.

¶12 After each side presented its witnesses and gave closing arguments, the district court issued an oral ruling from the bench. The court first explained that it was "going to grant the stalking injunction, with one modification"—it removed Daughter as "a protected party." The court stated that it was removing Daughter because there was no evidence that she was "threatened, harassed, monitored, surveilled, that kind of thing."

¶13 The court then recited the "elements of stalking" from the stalking statute. Of note here, these include a determination that the alleged stalker "intentionally or knowingly engage[d] in a course of conduct directed at a specific person" and that the alleged stalker "knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person: (a) to fear for the person's own safety or the safety of a third person; or (b) to suffer other emotional distress." Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-106.5(2).

¶14 The court found that the course of conduct element was "easily satisfied with two or more acts"—namely that "Hartman has parked outside and driven past [Corona-Leyva's] home many...

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1 practice notes
  • State v. Grover, 20200187-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 7, 2022
    ...would have been different" if Counsel had more forcefully asked for a continuance. Strickland , 466 U.S. at 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052. As 509 P.3d 236 explained, the court allowed both Grover and Counsel to speak at sentencing. Grover took that opportunity, and when he did, he personally informed......
1 cases
  • State v. Grover, 20200187-CA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Utah
    • April 7, 2022
    ...would have been different" if Counsel had more forcefully asked for a continuance. Strickland , 466 U.S. at 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052. As 509 P.3d 236 explained, the court allowed both Grover and Counsel to speak at sentencing. Grover took that opportunity, and when he did, he personally informed......

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