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Ivancicts v. Griffith

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

November 21, 2017

DAWN IVANCICTS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MICKEY GRIFFITH, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Livingston County No. 2016OP1 Honorable Robert M. Travers, Judge Presiding.

          STEIGMANN JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Harris and DeArmond concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          STEIGMANN JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 In January 2016, petitioner, Dawn Ivancicts, filed a petition for a stalking no contact order against respondent, Mickey Griffith, pursuant to the Stalking No Contact Order Act (Act) (740 ILCS 21/1 et seq. (West 2016)). In September 2016, the trial court entered a plenary stalking no contact order against Griffith. In October 2016, Griffith filed a motion to vacate judgment, arguing that the unclean-hands doctrine should have barred the court from entering the order. The trial court declined to apply the unclean-hands doctrine and denied Griffith's motion to vacate judgment.

         ¶ 2 On appeal, Griffith argues that (1) the doctrine of unclean hands applies to petitions brought pursuant to the Act and (2) the trial court erred by failing to apply the unclean-hands doctrine in his case. We conclude that (1) the doctrine of unclean hands does not apply to the Act and, even if it did, (2) the trial court properly rejected its application on this record.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 This case involves a dispute between two neighbors. In January 2016, Dawn filed a verified petition for a stalking no contact order against Griffith. The trial court denied Dawn's request for an emergency order and set the petition for a plenary hearing.

         ¶ 5 In July and September 2016, the trial court conducted hearings on the petition. Dawn's husband, Jeff Ivancicts, testified that Dawn and he were neighbors with Griffith and that Griffith had an easement over their property. Jeff stated that they got along well with Griffith until a lawsuit involving Griffith and the easement was filed in 2014. Thereafter, Griffith yelled obscenities at Dawn and mocked her on multiple occasions. Specifically, Jeff testified about an incident in September 2015 when he and Dawn were outside their home and Griffith yelled at Dawn that she was "a f**king fat b***h" and Griffith then made cow or pig sounds to emphasize the point. He also then accused her of being involved in killing her mother-in-law. Griffith has also turned his stereo up to loudly play music and then pointed it at the residence of Jeff and Dawn.

         ¶ 6 Jeff testified that Griffith repeatedly engaged in yelling, playing his music very loud, and swearing at Dawn. Jeff said that during these incidents Griffith sounded intoxicated and acted intoxicated.

         ¶ 7 Jeff also testified about an incident in April 2015. When after he returned from work one evening, he and Dawn saw Griffith walking in front of their house. Griffith yelled at them that he was going to bulldoze their garage, bulldoze their shed, and was going to own their property. He also yelled that Dawn "was a b***h, " and he again yelled that Dawn let her mother-in-law die.

         ¶ 8 Jeff emphasized that Griffith's mistreatment of Dawn "happens every day or every other day; it's continuous." He said it has reached the point where Dawn will not go out of the house until Jeff gets home from work because she is afraid of Griffith, who was now at his home during the day. Jeff explained that Dawn has "been a nervous wreck" and is "on medication for her nerves. She's constantly crying and upset."

         ¶ 9 Dawn testified, essentially corroborating Jeff's testimony. She said that Griffith had yelled obscenities at her on multiple occasions during 2015 and 2016. One of the insults that Griffith yelled at Dawn is that she killed her mother-in-law for money. She also testified that in April 2016, she discovered Griffith looking through her kitchen window as Dawn sat down to eat. Griffith's conduct has caused her severe emotional and physical distress and has altered her daily routine. She said he has constantly called her names-like "baboon" and "you're a fat ugly bitch"-and then he would bring his chair out to a place on his property where he could sit and stare at her. Dawn testified that Griffith's conduct has created stress for her and required her to take medication under a doctor's care.

         ¶ 10 Griffith testified and acknowledged that he has yelled at Dawn and did accelerate his vehicle quickly outside her home. He complained that Dawn constantly video-recorded him with her cell phone and that she had video cameras pointed at the easement. Griffith also testified that Dawn constantly blocked the easement and that they were currently involved in litigation over it. Griffith argued that his actions were a justified response to Dawn's provocations.

         ¶ 11 During closing arguments, Dawn argued that she was a victim of stalking and sought imposition of a two-year stalking no contact order as well as attorney fees. Griffith argued that both parties engaged in routine harassment of each other and asked the court to deny imposition of the stalking no contact order. Griffith argued ...


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