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Doremus v. Morrow

Supreme Court of South Dakota

May 17, 2017

SEAN DOREMUS, Petitioner and Appellee,
COREY GENE MORROW, Respondent and Appellant.



          PAUL H. LINDE of Schaffer Law Office, Prof. LLC Attorneys for petitioner and appellee.

          BENJAMIN L. KLEINJAN of Helsper, McCarty & Rasmussen, PC Attorneys for respondent and appellant.

          ZINTER, Justice

         [¶1.] Sean Doremus filed a petition requesting a stalking protection order against Corey Morrow. The circuit court conducted an evidentiary hearing, found that Morrow engaged in stalking, and granted the petition. Morrow appeals. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2.] Doremus, a deputy sheriff in Brookings County, filed a petition and affidavit requesting a stalking protection order against Morrow. As is relevant here, Doremus alleged that Morrow: "Willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed me"; and "Harassed me by pursuing a knowing and willful course of conduct which seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses me with no legitimate purpose." The circuit court issued a temporary protection order and scheduled a hearing.

         [¶3.] Only Doremus and Morrow appeared at the hearing. Doremus appeared pro se, and Morrow appeared with counsel. Doremus testified that there were three incidents giving rise to his request for a protection order. The first incident occurred in the early morning hours of June 10, 2016. On that occasion, Doremus was assisting the Brookings Police Department in locating the driver of a vehicle who had been in an accident and was eluding law enforcement. While Doremus and other officers were waiting in the area near the accident to see if the driver would return, Morrow drove up but turned around when he saw the police vehicles. Doremus then initiated an investigatory stop of Morrow's vehicle. Although Morrow did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol, Doremus believed that Morrow was under the influence of drugs. Doremus arrested Morrow for driving under the influence and required that he take a blood test.

         [¶4.] During the course of the blood draw, Morrow made statements to Doremus that caused him concern. Doremus testified that the way Morrow "word[ed] things and the manner he [did] so . . . [came] across as a threat, " made "things very uncomfortable, " and "instill[ed] fear." Doremus explained:

[Morrow] stated that when we were done with this whole thing that he would find me, that we would have a conversation. He was very methodical in how he worded things in the aspect that he pushes the borderline of threatening law enforcement, but pulls it back and just puts a smile on and will-like I said, he'll state that we're going to have a conversation and when you ask him to go in depth he'll say: Don't worry about it, we're just going to have a little conversation, things along those lines.

         Later that morning, Doremus was driving near the jail just after Morrow was released on bond.[1] Morrow blocked the road and demanded that Doremus give him a ride home or else he would cause problems for the police department. However, Morrow ran off when another deputy arrived.

         [¶5.] The second incident occurred approximately two months later. On this occasion, Doremus, who was off duty, encountered Morrow at a grocery store. Doremus testified that Morrow stared at him, walked up very close, and always stayed within one aisle of him while they were in the store. Later, when Doremus was putting groceries in his car, Morrow drove up behind Doremus and said that he knew Doremus from somewhere and that it was "not good." Doremus testified that Morrow then smiled and took a picture of Doremus putting his groceries in his car. Morrow also took a picture of Doremus's license plate. As Doremus left the parking lot, he observed that Morrow had parked in a parking lot across the street. Doremus testified that Morrow appeared to be waiting for Doremus as he left. After this incident, Doremus filed a harassment report with the Brookings Police Department.

         [¶6.] The third incident occurred a few days later at 2:15 a.m. While Doremus was on patrol. Morrow drove up next to Doremus at a red light and was again staring at Doremus. When the light turned green, Doremus proceeded straight, and Morrow turned south. After driving his patrol vehicle for approximately thirteen blocks, Doremus initiated an unrelated traffic stop and radioed his location to the dispatcher. Shortly thereafter, he observed Morrow's vehicle park two blocks north of the traffic stop. Morrow got out of his vehicle and began walking toward Doremus. Doremus then radioed for other officers to assist him. Right after Doremus radioed for assistance, Morrow ...

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