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TM v. MZ

Court of Appeals of Michigan

October 23, 2018

TM, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
MZ, Respondent-Appellant.

          St. Clair Circuit Court LC No. 15-001798-PH

          Before: Riordan, P.J., and Fort Hood and Servitto, JJ.

          ON REMAND

          Riordan, P.J.

         This case returns to us on remand from our Supreme Court. When we originally heard this case, we dismissed the appeal for mootness. McGuire v. Zoran, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued January 19, 2017 (Docket No. 329190). The Court reversed, reasoning that "the mere fact that the instant [personal protection order] PPO expired during the pendency of this appeal does not render this appeal moot," and remanded the case to us "for consideration on the merits." TM v. MZ, 501 Mich. 312, 320; 916 N.W.2d 473 (2018). Because the amended PPO was issued based on respondent's constitutionally protected speech and amounted to an unconstitutional prior restraint on his speech, we reverse the trial court.

         I. BACKGROUND FACTS & PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Petitioner TM and respondent MZ are neighbors in Cottrellville Township, Michigan. Respondent is a former trustee of Cottrellville Township and petitioner also has had some involvement in local politics, presently as a member of the Township Parks and Recreation Board. She also has participated in successful recalls of respondent and the supervisor of Cottrellville Township.

         Petitioner and respondent have an acrimonious past which includes respondent's mother (with whom he lived) obtaining a PPO against petitioner's husband after he allegedly assaulted her. The impetuses for this appeal are highly inflammatory and negative comments respondent posted about petitioner and her family online. Respondent had posted negative comments about petitioner on Facebook, and through private messages, as far back as 2014, but when the nature of these postings, in petitioner's words, "escalated[, ]" she petitioned the trial court on July 20, 2015 for a PPO. In an attachment to the petition, petitioner identified eight dates on which respondent allegedly made derogatory comments about her and her family by way of posts on his own Facebook page, on public Facebook pages, or in private messages to undisclosed recipients. Specifically, the attachment stated:

Below are some of the instances where [respondent] used the internet or a computer or other electronic medium to post both public and private messages for the purpose of terrorizing, frightening, intimidating, threatening, or harassing me.
July 6, 2015
[Respondent] made several comments on a post in the St. Clair County, Michigan page on Facebook, including but not limited to; calling me a criminal, accusing me of hiding criminals, having illegal trailers on my property, posting pictures of my yard, [stating] that I meet the requirements of "hurting someone" and that I'm a criminal.
July 6, 2015
[Respondent] sent a private Facebook message to multiple people, with regards to the above mentioned comments made on the St. Clair County, Michigan page, saying that I am criminal, I hide criminals, and saying things about the death of my son, which were not only derogatory and disgusting, but were complete lies, and how it was because of my parenting. These comments were in addition to other things.
May 4, 2015
[Respondent] posted on his Facebook page a picture of a car and a letter with a heading of "Attempted abduction in St. Clair Count [sic], Please share this Info!" Respondent then commented on the post that if there were any questions about the vehicle to join the St. Clair County, Michigan Facebook group.
[Respondent] also commented on this post that the driver of the vehicle "was involved in a form of attempted abduction of a child" and further down [respondent] commented "I actually saw a similar vehicle at [TM's address], where it was there only a couple of minutes." This is my address.
[Respondent] also made a comment on the post about the car on the St. Clair County, Michigan Facebook page wherein he stated "a vehicle just like that was at [petitioner's address] today . . . It watched my home, and then pulled into [petitioners's address]- an address notorious for everything from crime to severe ordinance violations that never go away. It was only there for a few minutes."
April 22, 2015
[Respondent] made a comment on a post about a stolen bbq to "Go look at [petitioner's address]. . . It is a virtual junk yard of items picked up from the garbage of other[s]".
September 7, 2014
[Respondent] commented on a post in the St. Clair County, Michigan Facebook page about motorcycles stolen out of Auburn Hills, ". . . my neighbor is at [petitioner's address]. . . I saw them burning parts and burying them illegally in the ...

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