In Hogue vs Hogue (September 29, 2017)
Third District finds that husband’s sending video of his mock suicide from Georgia to wife in California was conduct that disturbed her peace of mind (in light of alleged domestic violence) and was sufficient to give California personal jurisdiction to issue DVP restraining order; reverses trial court’s grant of husband’s motion to quash service.
Facts of the case:
In 1996, Maria and Jerry Hogue are married in California and live there until 2015, when they move to Georgia. While in Georgia, Maria alleged, Jerry subjected her to several incidents of domestic violence that caused her physical injuries. She also states that those acts were a continuation of a long 20 year history of physical domestic abuse from Jerry. Luckily, Maria and her mother are able to leave Georgia and return back to California. In February 2016, she filed a request for a DVP (Domestic Violence Protection) restraining order against Jerry, whom she served at his Georgia residence. In April of the same year, Jerry moved to quash service for lack of personal jurisdiction. He claimed he had no contact with California for the past two years, and had no actions take place there in that time.
In response to this motion, Maria’s attorney provided the court with printouts of internet contact between Maria and Jerry which were allegedly abusive or threatening. In addition to this, Maria states that Jerry messaged her a video on social media where he pretends to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head.
Rulings of the case:
Despite this, the trial court found that the internet evidence (except the fake suicide video) provided by Maria dated back to October 2015 and December of the same year, and that it was not sufficient basis for restraining order. Ultimately, the court ruled that the evidence provided by Maria and her attorney lacked personal jurisdiction over Jerry, and accordingly granted Jerry’s motion to quash. Maria appealed, and the Third District granted the motion and remanded.
In reviewing the case, the justices take a look at the basic constitutional principles of personal jurisdiction and conclude that “defendants should not be subject to personal jurisdiction in forums with which they lack ‘minimum contacts’ that are more than random, fortuitous, or attenuated”. Meaning that a California court may have personal jurisdiction over a defendant who has “sufficient purposeful contacts” with this state (King). They also agreed that “personal jurisdiction may be based on a species of specific jurisdiction in which a defendant acting elsewhere causes effects in California of a nature that are exceptional and subject to special regulation in this state(King). They noted that the “very existence of the Domestic Violence Protection Act” is evidence enough that California considers in that exceptional kind of light stated above. The video which Jerry sent to Maria was action which would definitely disturb Maria’s peace of mind and in light of previous domestic violence allegations. The Third District vacated Jerry’s quashing request and remanded further proceedings in light of Maria’s requests.
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Hogoboom & King, Cal. Practice Guide: Family Law (The Rutter Group) 4:7.1