The Appellate Group

Hardy v. Hardy

Hardy v. Hardy, 2020 UT Ap 88 (Christiansen Forster, J.)

Civil Stalking Injunction

Brian Hardy went to a therapist’s office to see if his ex-wife, Karen, was taking their child to a therapist that he did not approve of. Brian observed Karen and took two photographs. Karen saw Brian and filed a request for a civil stalking injunction against him. The district court ruled that Brian observing and photographing Karen amounted to two separate acts that constituted a course of conduct and therefore entered the injunction. The Utah Court of Appeals reversed, holding:

  • Brian’s observing and photographing Karen at the same time and for the same purpose was not sufficient to establish a course of conduct.
  • Observing someone is generally inherent in the act of photographing that person, especially where the statute requires the photographing to be knowing and directed toward a specific person. There is overlap between several of the acts listed in the stalking statute. The fact that a single action may be described by more than one named example in the statutory list does not mean multiple acts of stalking have occurred.
  • To constitute a course of conduct, the alleged actions must be distinct in time or purpose. The purpose of the conduct is relevant in assessing whether two separate acts have occurred. In this case, the photographing and observing occurred essentially simultaneously and furthered a single purpose of proving that Karen was taking the child to see an unapproved therapist. 

Read the full court opinion