STATE OF IOWA EX REL. SAMANTHA LARSON, Plaintiff-Appellant,
GREG MASIAS JR., Defendant-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Joel W.
State of Iowa, on behalf of Samantha Larson, appeals the
district court's dismissal of its application for order
to show cause based on a finding that it failed to prove Greg
Masias's willful violation of a no-contact order beyond a
L. Ottesen of Family Resources, Inc., Davenport, for
M. Phelps, Davenport, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., McDonald, J., and Blane, S.J.
State, on behalf of Samantha Larson, a protected party, filed
an application for order to show cause against defendant Greg
Masias Jr. based upon an alleged violation of a no-contact
order and contemporaneous visitation order during a
child-visitation exchange. Following a hearing on the record,
the district court determined the State had failed to prove
Masias's conduct constituted a willful violation of the
no-contact order and denied the application. Based upon our
review, we affirm the district court.
Standard of Review.
cases impose a special standard of review of the facts in
contempt cases. If it is claimed that a ruling is not
supported by substantial evidence, 'we examine the
evidence, not de novo, but to assure ourselves that proper
proof supports the judgment.'" State v.
Lipcamon, 483 N.W.2d 605, 606 (Iowa 1992) (quoting
Palmer College of Chiropractic v. Dist Ct, 412
N.W.2d 617, 619 (Iowa 1987)). "The exact extent to which
we may go in deciding questions of fact from the record is
vaguely defined; it lies in a shadowland, a 'twilight
zone', whose boundaries do not admit of definite
charting." Id. (citation omitted). "The
finding of contempt must be established by proof beyond a
reasonable doubt." Id.
are not bound by the trial court's conclusions of law and
may inquire into whether it applied erroneous rules of law
that materially affected its decision." Id. at
Procedural and Factual Background.
filed a chapter 236 petition for relief from domestic abuse
against Masias. At the hearing on February 22, 2017, Larson
and Masias agreed to the entry of a protective order by
consent agreement. Since these parties have a child together,
the court also entered a contemporaneous, supplemental
visitation order, which provided for Masias to have
visitation with the child-with exchanges to take place at the
Eldridge Police Department-and communication between the
parties to be by email and only regarding the child.
9, the State, on behalf of Larson, filed an application for
rule to show cause against Masias for violation of the
February 22 orders alleged to have occurred during the child
exchange at the Eldridge Police Department on May 7. The
application was supported by Larson's
district court held a hearing on the contempt action on
September 27. Larson and Masias testified, as did
Larson's fiancé. The testimony differed to some
extent but was consistent on several points. Larson testified
Masias complained she "snatched" the child from his
arms; yelled at her as she walked away, stating, "Did
you hear me?" and "It's [the snatching] going
to stop"; and screamed at her from his vehicle as he was