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Ohio Supreme Court to hear Clay Twp. residents’ dispute

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear a case that began in Ottawa County where the common pleas court agreed to a request by a Clay Township woman to issue a civil protection order against her neighbor.

Dorothy Fondessy, of N. Genoa-Clay Center Road, filed the petition on behalf of herself and her husband for the protection order against Anthony Simon. The common pleas court agreed to her request in November 2011 and issued a protection order that is in effect for five years.

Simon filed his appeal a month later and the appeals court upheld the lower court’s decision this August. However, the appeals court agreed to a later motion by Simon that its decision conflicts with decisions of several other appellate courts in the state.

“The Sixth District Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the common pleas court but since there was, in my opinion, a conflict of law between different appellate districts I filed a motion with the appellate court to certify the conflict. The appellate court then is obligated to certify that there is an apparent conflict of law. That’s what they did,” said Wesley Miller, attorney for Simon. “The Supreme Court is not obligated to accept it, however they did.”

He said a section of the Ohio Revised Code pertaining to the criteria for issuing civil stalking protection orders is central to the case.  The parties are to address whether the revised code requires a victim to actually experience mental distress or only believe the stalker will cause the victim physical harm or mental distress, for a court to issue a protection order.

The appeals court noted in its decision it has consistently held that state law doesn’t require a victim actually experience mental distress but acknowledged decisions by appeals courts of the seventh, fourth and ninth districts do require victims to experience mental distress.

A majority of appeals court decisions haven’t required victims actually experience distress, the opinion of the sixth district court says.

The protection order directs Simon to stay at least 25 feet away from the Fondessys and not have any contact with them.

The Supreme Court on Nov. 20 directed the appeals court to transfer the case record to the higher court.

Miller said the transfer must be completed within 20 days and a brief on behalf of Simon must be filed within 40 days from then. The Fondessys have 30 days after that to file a response.

A property line dispute between Simon and the Fondessys was resolved with a survey but confrontations between Simon and Dorothy Fondessy continued, court records say.

A lawsuit filed by Simon in April against the township police chief is pending in common pleas court. He is alleging malicious prosecution. The Fondessys are also defendants in the case.

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