GINA M. CHILDS
ROBERT A. BALLOU JR.
Briefs: May 26, 2016
Christopher C. Taintor, Esq., Norman, Hanson & Detroy,
LLC, Portland for appellant Robert A. Ballou Jr.
M. Childs did not file a brief
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Robert A. Ballou Jr. appeals from a judgment of the District
Court (South Paris, Carlson, J.) granting to Gina M.
Childs a two-year extension of an existing order of
protection from abuse. See 19-A M.R.S. §
4007(2] (2015]. Although Ballou raises multiple issues, we
discern no error and write only to address his argument that
the court-ordered restrictions on his communications with
Childs violate his First Amendment rights. We affirm the
Childs and Ballou were married in 2007, their son was born in
2008, and Childs filed for divorce in 2010. Childs sought a
protection from abuse order against Ballou in 2010 while the
divorce was pending, and a protection order was entered upon
the parties' agreement without a finding of abuse. That
order expired in 2012 after the divorce judgment had been
On August 20, 2013, Childs filed a new complaint for
protection from abuse. The court entered an order, again by
agreement of the parties and without a finding of abuse. The
2013 order prohibited contact except by email and only
regarding their then five-year-old son, and allowed for
emergency contact only through an identified third party. The
order was set to expire on August 24, 2015.
On August 11, 2015, Childs moved to extend the duration of
the 2013 protection from abuse order. The court held a
contested evidentiary hearing and granted the extension. The
court entered an order prohibiting Ballou from "having
any contact, direct or indirect, " with Childs and
ordered that rights of contact with respect to the child
would be arranged and facilitated through a third party.
Ballou moved for findings of fact and conclusions of law,
see M.R. Civ. P. 52(a]; and for the court to
reconsider, alter, or amend the judgment, see M.R.
Civ. P. 59(e]. In a written judgment, the court denied
Ballou's post-judgment motions except to the extent that
it made additional factual findings.
The following facts found by the court are based on competent
evidence in the record. See Smith v. Hawthorne, 2002
ME 149, ¶ 15, 804 A.2d 1133. By 2013, Ballou was going
to Childs's home almost every day, even at times when she
had asked him not to do so. In July 2014, Childs reported to
law enforcement email messages from Ballou that she thought
violated the existing protection order. In some of those
messages and in others that he sent in 2013, Ballou discussed
matters that did not relate to the child, including
statements accusing Childs of seeing another man, mentioning
his previous request for "break-up sex, " and
asking Childs to relax the protection from abuse order.
Ballou also began repeatedly requesting that law enforcement
officers conduct "well-being checks" regarding the
child at Childs's home. In September 2014, Ballou was
informed by the Sheriffs Office that it would no longer
conduct such checks because Ballou was "looking for Law
Enforcement to violate his protection order by reporting back
on his child, ex-wife's home and her actions."
The court ultimately determined that the extension of the
2013 protection order was necessary because Childs's
reasons for seeking an order in 2010 and 2013 still existed
and caused her fear. This finding was supported by evidence
that, before the 2013 order was in place, Ballou would send
Childs hundreds of text messages within a single day
and that he had recently again been sending excessively long,
combative, and frequent email messages that were not
exclusively about the child. The court found Ballou- who at
trial dismissed Childs's safety concerns, claiming that
she was "preoccupied [with] how the public perceives
her"-not to be credible in his testimony or demeanor.
The court further found that Ballou's repeated requests
for well-being checks on the child amounted to stalking.
Ballou timely appealed. See 14 M.R.S. § 1901
; 19-A M.R.S. §104 ; M.R.App. P. 2.
Ballou argues that the extension of the protection from abuse
order violates his First Amendment rights by prohibiting
communications that are not threatening and are "at
worst upsetting." He further argues that he is being
penalized for exercising the right to ...