Griffin v. Griffin, Docket No. Kno–13–275.

CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
Writing for the CourtALEXANDER
Citation2014 ME 70,92 A.3d 1144
Docket NumberDocket No. Kno–13–275.
Decision Date22 May 2014
PartiesGlenn A. GRIFFIN v. Cristie J. GRIFFIN.

92 A.3d 1144
2014 ME 70

Cristie J. GRIFFIN.

Docket No. Kno–13–275.

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.

Argued: April 9, 2014.
Decided: May 22, 2014.

[92 A.3d 1145]

Kelly E. Mellenthin, Esq. (orally), Lincolnville, for appellant Cristie J. Griffin.

Philip S. Cohen, Esq. (orally), Cohen & Cohen, Waldoboro, for appellee Glenn A. Griffin.



[¶ 1] Cristie J. Griffin appeals from a divorce judgment entered in the District Court (Rockland, Worth, J.) that awarded primary residence of the parties' young child to Glenn A. Griffin and rights of contact to Cristie. Cristie presents several issues on appeal, of which we give extended consideration to two: (1) whether the court erred in denying Cristie's motion in limine and permitting Glenn to play recordings at trial that he had made of telephone conversations between Cristie and the child because, she asserts, the recordings were made in violation of Maine's Interception of Wire and Oral Communications Act (the Act), 15 M.R.S. §§ 709–713 (2012),1 and (2) whether the court erred when it ordered that the appointed guardian ad litem (GAL) approve, postjudgment, the counselor for Cristie, who was ordered to attend counseling as a condition for her continued rights of contacts with her child. Concluding that the court erred in extending the duties of the GAL beyond the entry of the final divorce judgment, we vacate that portion of the judgment ordering that the GAL continue services postjudgment to approve Cristie's counselor. We affirm the judgment in all other respects.

[¶ 2] In addition to the two issues addressed above, Cristie argues that the court abused its discretion or erred by (1) allowing Glenn's recordings to be played at trial because the recordings were not original, complete, or authentic; (2) not “disqualifying” the GAL's report because, in Cristie's view, the GAL failed to conduct a thorough investigation, report pertinent findings, and address all of the statutorily required best interests of the child factors,

[92 A.3d 1146]

see19–A M.R.S. § 1507(4) (2013), and because the report illegally discloses the recordings that were illegally obtained; (3) limiting Cristie's examination of the GAL about the contents of her report at trial, in violation of due process; (4) ordering Cristie to pay a portion of the GAL's fees without determining the reasonableness of those fees or finding that Cristie has the ability to pay; and (5) ordering Cristie to provide to her counselor a copy of the telephone recordings.

[¶ 3] We conclude that the phone conversations were properly recorded and that the court did not err or abuse its discretion in admitting and considering the contested recordings and in requiring that the recordings be provided to Cristie's counselor. Nor has Cristie demonstrated that the GAL's investigation, including multiple interviews and sixty-nine hours of work, was insufficiently thorough or that her report was incomplete, or that the court improperly limited the examination of the GAL, or abused its discretion in requiring Cristie to pay the portion of the GAL's costs.


[¶ 4] Glenn and Cristie Griffin married in 1999 and have a daughter who was born in October 2006. Glenn filed a complaint for divorce in December 2011, at which time he moved out while Cristie and the child stayed in the family home in Washington. In May 2012, the Family Law Magistrate ( Mathews, M.) appointed a GAL, and ordered that the costs for the GAL's services be paid by the parties. The appointment order placed no limits on the services that the GAL might perform or the fees that the GAL might charge, but it did limit the term of the GAL's appointment to “the duration of the case.” 2

[¶ 5] After Glenn moved out of the home, Cristie demonstrated a pattern of attempting to control Glenn's interactions with their child, which included her plan to relocate with the child to Bangor on September 1, 2012. When Glenn learned that Cristie intended to move the child away from the only home, school, and community the child had ever known at a time when the divorce proceeding was becoming increasingly contentious, he moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent Cristie from moving the child. Nonetheless, Cristie moved to Bangor on or around August 18, 2012.

[¶ 6] On August 23, 2012, after a hearing, the court ( Worth, J.) entered an interim order assigning shared parental rights and responsibilities to Glenn and Cristie, but allocating primary residence of the child to Glenn at the family home in Washington. Cristie was granted contact with the child from Friday evenings to Sunday evenings. The August 23 order also directed the parties to “refrain from making ... any disparaging statements about the other party in the presence of the other party or the minor child.” Additionally, the order stated that both parties “shall have reasonable telephone contact with the minor child.”

[¶ 7] Glenn moved back into the family home in Washington, and the child lived with him at the home during the week. Beginning in August 2012, Cristie had a twenty-five to thirty-minute cell phone conversation with the then five- to six-year-old child each evening when the child was at Glenn's home. Glenn sometimes overheard portions of Cristie's side of these conversations, because Cristie spoke loudly through the phone. At times, he

[92 A.3d 1147]

heard Cristie make disparaging statements about him and make other emotionally harmful comments to the child, such as indicating to the child that Glenn did not know how to parent the child or how to take care of her, suggesting to the child that she “[b]e mean to daddy,” telling the child that Glenn cared more about his new girlfriend than he did about the child, and telling the child that Glenn's mother, “Nana,” was “stupid.” Glenn observed that the child was sometimes unhappy or disturbed after the calls.

[¶ 8] Concerned by what he overheard Cristie say to the child, Glenn consulted with his attorney and the GAL. In November 2012, Glenn recorded some of the conversations between Cristie and the child, using a smartphone and a “Bluetooth device that records.” Conversations captured on the recordings were similar to the conversations that Glenn had previously overheard. Although Glenn was apparently not aware of it at the time, Cristie was also recording her phone conversations with the child.

[¶ 9] The recordings revealed that Cristie would at times bully and berate the child, manipulate her emotionally, threaten to stop talking to the child if she did not do as Cristie wanted, criticize the child for not seeming to care enough for Cristie, and scold the child for failing to keep secrets from Glenn. During one conversation, the child began to cry in response to Cristie's comments. Cristie continued to make disparaging remarks to the child about Glenn and the quality of care he provided for the child, told the child that Glenn was “pathetic,” a “loser,” and a “liar,” and asked the child to report Glenn's activities to Cristie.

[¶ 10] In December 2012, Glenn filed a motion for contempt, alleging that Cristie was violating the August 2012 interim order by repeatedly making disparaging remarks about him to the child. The court avoided duplicative hearings by deferring consideration of the contempt motion for hearing during the upcoming divorce trial. Cristie moved in limine to exclude from trial, pursuant to the Interception of Wire and Oral Communications Act, Glenn's telephone recordings and all references to them and to exclude the GAL's report because it referenced and relied on the recordings. The court ordered that it would also consider that motion at trial.

[¶ 11] The court held a trial on the divorce complaint over the course of four days in January and February 2013. At the beginning of the first day, the court heard argument on Cristie's motion in limine and denied the motion, allowing Glenn's telephone recordings to be played at trial. Cristie had also argued before trial began that she had had no opportunity to listen to the recordings prior to trial or to authenticate them, so the court delayed the trial to allow Cristie to listen to the recordings. Cristie did not renew any objection to their admissibility when the recordings were subsequently played during the trial. At trial, Glenn played recordings of four telephone conversations between Cristie and the child. Cristie subsequently played her own recordings of calls she made to the child in November 2012 and of conversations that she had with Glenn at times when she transferred the child back to Glenn after she had weekend visitation.

[¶ 12] On April 17, 2013, the court entered a judgment of divorce and found Cristie in contempt for her violation of the August 2012 interim order because she had repeatedly disparaged Glenn during the phone calls to the child. The court found that Cristie's remarks “created a significant risk of harm to the young child.” The court also found that Cristie was in contempt of the court's interim order when she verbally assaulted Glenn in

[92 A.3d 1148]

front of the child during a transfer of the child.

[¶ 13] Cristie moved for further findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to the divorce judgment and the contempt order, to alter or amend the divorce judgment to allow her to have telephone contact with the child while the child was in Glenn's care, and to correct the divorce judgment. The court granted in part the motion for findings and conclusions concerning the contempt order, finding that Glenn's in-court testimony about what he overheard Cristie say to the child in the nightly phone calls, the GAL's testimony and report, Cristie's testimony, and the parties' recordings played at trial all supported the contempt order. The court either granted in part or denied Cristie's remaining motions, including denying...

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    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • 5 Abril 2016
    ...exemptions to federal and state eavesdropping laws by employing the test adopted by the majority today (see e.g. Griffin v. Griffin, 92 A.3d 1144, 2014 ME 70 [2014] ; Commonwealth v. F.W., 465 Mass. 1, 986 N.E.2d 868 [2013] ; Pollock v. Pollock, 154 F.3d 601 [6th Cir.1998] ; Thompson v. Dul......
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    • New York Court of Appeals
    • 5 Abril 2016
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