C.J.L. v. Langford

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Stalking Protective Order
  • Date Filed: 04-23-2014
  • Case #: A149753
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; & Lagesen, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In order for an Stalking Protective Order to be issued, under ORS 30.866, a petitioner must show that speech-based contacts instill a fear of imminent and serious personal violence from the speaker, are unequivocal, and are objectively likely to be followed by unlawful acts, such that the addressee believes the actor intends and is able to carry them out. Threats that are hyperbole, rhetorical excesses, and impotent expressions of anger or frustration are insufficient, even if they alarm the addressee.

C.J.L. and Langford were in a relationship which produced a child. C.J.L. sought a Stalking Protective Order (SPO), under ORS 30.866, after Langford allegedly, on three occasions, yelled at C.J.L. and threatened to use the judicial process, contact police, and contact DHS regarding their child’s welfare. Langford claimed that the contacts were not unwanted, but if unwanted, did not constitute the type of threat required to satisfy the statutory requirements for an SPO. The SPO was granted and Langford appealed. To obtain an SPO, C.J.L. had to show: (1) intentional, knowing, or reckless conduct by Langford against C.J.L. that constitutes repeated and unwanted contact; (2) the C.J.L. was subjectively alarmed or coerced and that the alarm or coercion was objectively reasonable for a person in C.J.L.’s situation; and (3) that the contact reasonably caused C.J.L. to fear for her personal safety. For speech-based contact, the communication must instill fear in C.J.L. of imminent and personal violence from Langford which is unequivocal and objectively likely to be followed by unlawful acts. The Court held that Langford’s speech-based contacts with C.J.L. did not violate ORS 30.866 because Respondent did not threaten violence; the contacts were impotent expressions of anger or frustration or threats of lawful means of dispute resolution. Reversed.

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