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King v. King

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 20, 2019

JUNE E. KING, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RICHARD W. KING, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Mitchell County, Christopher C. Foy, Judge.

         Richard King appeals the entry of a domestic abuse protective order.

          Kevin E. Schoeberl of Story Schoeberl & Seebach, LLP, Cresco, for appellant.

          Todd P. Prichard of Prichard Law Office, PC, Charles City, for appellee.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.

          TABOR, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Richard King appeals the entry of a domestic abuse protective order prohibiting contact with his wife, June. Richard asserts June offered insufficient evidence he assaulted her. Richard also contends the district court erred in granting June exclusive possession of the family home and restricting his possession of firearms. After our independent review of the record, we conclude June carried her burden to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, she was entitled to a protective order under Iowa Code section 236.5(1)(b) (2017). We also uphold the housing and firearms provisions of the order.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Richard and June are both sixty-four years old. They have been married for more than forty years and have lived in the same home in McIntire, Iowa, for more than twenty years. The couple has experienced "difficulty in the marriage" in the past few years. Starting in 2015, June called the Mitchell County Sheriff's Office several times to report acts of hostility by Richard. Law enforcement did not file criminal charges. The parties began divorce proceedings in 2017 but continued living together in the same house. Eventually, June moved to the basement and only came upstairs to get ice out of the refrigerator or use the shower.

         In November 2017, June filed a petition for relief from domestic abuse under Iowa Code chapter 236. In her petition, June alleged three incidents of domestic abuse assault: First, on October 27, 2017, Richard threatened her to "get down to the basement and get out or I'll make sure you get out." She called law enforcement, and voluntarily left the house but returned later. Second, in July 2017, Richard "pushed [her] out of the way." Finally, in December 2016, Richard "shoved [her] out of bed." June also alleged "continuous hostility and threats" by Richard.

         The district court issued a temporary protective order and set the petition for hearing on November 14, 2017. On November 2, Richard accepted service of the petition and protective order, and peace officers removed him from the marital home. Following the hearing, [1] the court concluded Richard committed domestic abuse and entered a final order of protection under Iowa Code section 236.5(1)(b). Richard appeals. June waived filing of a brief.

         II. Scope and Standards of Review

         Our standard of review depends on "the mode of trial" in the district court. Compare Knight v. Knight, 525 N.W.2d 841, 843 (Iowa 1994) (reviewing de novo because the case was tried in equity), with Bacon ex rel. Bacon v. Bacon, 567 N.W.2d 414, 417 (Iowa 1997) (reviewing for correction of errors at law because district court "rule[d] on objections as they were made," signaling the case was tried as a law action).

         Richard contends this case was heard in equity, so our review is de novo. We agree. While the district court ruled on some evidentiary objections during trial, "the objections were minor and did not have a significant effect on the proceedings." See Passehl Estate v. Passehl, 712 N.W.2d 408, 414 n.6 (Iowa 2006) (noting when "no one claims the trial court improperly excluded ...


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