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Rebel v. Rebel

Supreme Court of North Dakota

September 25, 2013

Wendy Rebel, Petitioner and Appellee
v.
Jesse Rebel, Respondent and Appellant Wendy Rebel, Petitioner and Appellee
v.
Brandi Rebel, Respondent and Appellant

Appeals from the District Court of Stark County, Southwest Judicial District, the Honorable Harlan Patrick Weir, Judge.

Mary E. Nordsven, for petitioner and appellee.

Justin D. Hager, for respondents and appellants.

OPINION

Kapsner, Justice.

[¶ 1] Jesse Rebel and Brandi Rebel ("Rebels") appeal from district court orders granting Wendy Rebel two-year disorderly conduct restraining orders against them. We affirm, concluding the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the disorderly conduct restraining orders against the Rebels under N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01.

I

[¶ 2] Wendy Rebel and Jesse Rebel were divorced in 2009 and have two minor children. In 2011, Jesse Rebel married Brandi Rebel.

[¶ 3] On April 26, 2012, Wendy Rebel petitioned the district court for disorderly conduct restraining orders against Jesse Rebel and Brandi Rebel. Wendy Rebel's petitions alleged, in part, an incident occurring on April 17, 2012, after a school program, in which Brandi Rebel purportedly used vulgar and abusive language toward Wendy Rebel. Her petitions also alleged a confrontation occurring on April 25, 2012, in which the Rebels approached Wendy Rebel in her car parked in front of the school, where she was picking up her son, and began shouting at her and calling her vulgar and abusive names. Wendy Rebel asserts the Rebels confronted her over alleged DNA evidence purportedly showing Jesse Rebel was not the father of their children. Wendy Rebel's petitions asserted that at the time she was frightened and called the police.

[¶ 4] On April 27, 2012, the district court issued a temporary disorderly conduct restraining order against each of the Rebels. A judicial referee held a hearing on the petitions and subsequently issued a two-year disorderly conduct restraining order in each case in July 2012. The Rebels requested the district court to review the judicial referee's findings and orders. On December 10, 2012, the district court conducted a full evidentiary hearing on Wendy Rebel's petitions. After the hearing, the court initially entered orders in December 2012, affirming the judicial referee's disorderly conduct restraining order in each case. In doing so, the court made its own findings of fact, in addition to adopting the findings of the judicial referee. The Rebels promptly objected to the district court's orders as improper under N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R. 13, § 11. The district court subsequently entered orders in January 2013, rejecting the judicial referee's findings, making its own findings of fact, and granting a two-year disorderly conduct restraining order in each case. The court did not specifically vacate its initial December 2012 orders. The Rebels appealed from the district court's December 2012 orders, affirming the judicial referee's disorderly conduct restraining orders, and from the court's January 2013 orders, granting disorderly conduct restraining orders.

[¶ 5] The district court's January 2013 orders, however, did not include the specific conditions of violations of the restraining orders. Therefore, after oral argument to this Court on June 5, 2013, we ordered the cases temporarily remanded to the district court for 14 days for the limited purposes of amending the January 2013 orders to include specific conditions of violation of the restraining orders. Because the court's amended orders entered in June 2013 on limited remand in each of the cases have designated the specific conditions of violation of the restraining orders, we turn to the merits of the appeal.

II

[¶ 6] The Rebels argue the district court erred in affirming the judicial referee's orders and making new findings in both cases. The Rebels apparently rely on this Court's decision in Benson v. Benson, 495 N.W.2d 72, 77 (N.D. 1993), which predates the 2004 amendments to N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R. 13.

[¶ 7] In In re B.F., 2009 ND 53, ¶¶ 9-12, 764 N.W.2d 170, this Court discussed the evolution of the standard in North Dakota for reviewing a judicial referee's decision. Specifically, this Court noted the amendments to N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R. 13, § 11, that became effective on March 1, 2004. See In re B.F., at ¶ 11. Rule 13, § 11, N.D. Sup. Ct. Admin. R. provides:

(a) A review of the findings and order may be ordered at any time by a district court judge and must be ordered if a party files a written request for a review within seven days after service of the notice in Section 10(b). The request for review must state the reasons for the review. A party requesting review must give notice to all other parties. A party seeking to respond to a ...

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