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In Re the Marriage of Janet and Curtis Carter. v. Curtis Carter

December 7, 2010

IN RE THE MARRIAGE OF JANET AND CURTIS CARTER. JANET CARTER, RESPONDENT,
v.
CURTIS CARTER, APPELLANT.



Appeal from an order of the Superior Court of Orange County, Michael J. Naughton, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'leary, Acting P. J.

Marriage of Carter CA4/3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

OPINION

Reversed and remanded with directions.

INTRODUCTION

A judgment of dissolution of the marriage of Janet Carter and Curtis Carter was entered in April 2009.*fn1 In this appeal, Curtis appeals from a domestic violence restraining order (the restraining order) issued against him on February 24, 2010. He argues (1) the family court was biased against him and favored Janet because she is a "Caucasian licensed Family Law attorney" who is "practicing law in the same jurisdiction as the lower court" and was biased against his religious beliefs, and (2) before making its ruling, the family court reviewed in camera a folder of documents submitted by Janet without permitting him to review them.

Although we find no evidence of bias, we conclude the family court erred if it reviewed documents in camera without expressing a legitimate reason for not letting Curtis see them. We therefore reverse and remand with directions set forth in the Disposition. The domestic violence temporary restraining order, issued on January 29, 2010 (the temporary restraining order), is ordered reinstated until disposition after remand of Janet's application for a domestic violence restraining order.

FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS IN THE FAMILY COURT

Janet and Curtis were married in October 1999. Janet is an attorney and the principal shareholder of The Advocate's Legal Center Inc. Curtis is a writer and at the time of trial was employed part time by LA Fitness International, LLC. Janet filed for legal separation in March 2008. In April 2009, a judgment of dissolution was entered.

On January 29, 2010, Janet sought and was granted the temporary restraining order against Curtis pending a hearing on her application for a domestic violence restraining order. The application was supported by a lengthy declaration. Curtis answered the temporary restraining order and submitted his declaration, another declaration, and other evidence in opposition to the application for a restraining order.

A hearing on the application for a domestic violence restraining order was conducted on February 24, 2010. Janet and Curtis apparently testified, but no reporter's transcript was requested.

After the hearing, the court entered a minute order stating: "The court finds the pleadings do not contain intent to commit acts of domestic violence but the emails sent are disturbing and do fall within the conduct for a restraining order to be issued. This ongoing conduct is a methodology to continue on with a relationship that is over. [ΒΆ] The court finds acts of domestic violence have occurred and the moving party is the victim and the responding party is the perpetrator and did not act in self-defense. The court finds good cause to issue restraining orders in accordance with ...


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