Petition against Queen Creek councilman dismissed in court

Queen Creek Councilman Jeff Brown, left, and Queen Creek resident Lanny Brown, right. (File photos)

Queen Creek Councilman Jeff Brown, left, and Queen Creek resident Lanny Brown, right. (File photos)

 

A petition for an injunction against harassment against a Queen Creek councilman was dismissed Aug. 18 by a Maricopa County judge.

The petition against Jeff Brown was filed Aug. 10 by Queen Creek resident Lanny Brown in the San Marcos Justice Court, 201 E. Chicago St. in Chandler, according to court records, case No. CC2016-142096.

The men are not related.

Judge Keith Frankel presided over the Aug. 18 hearing.

An injunction against harassment is available if the conduct of any person is “harassment” as defined by Arizona law: 1) The defendant can be anyone, whether or not related to (the plaintiff); and 2) the conduct can be any conduct which is harassment, according to the Maricopa County Judicial Branch of Arizona website.

Harassment is defined as a series of acts (at least two events) over any period of time that is directed at a specific person and that would cause a reasonable person to be seriously alarmed, annoyed or harassed and the conduct in fact seriously alarms, annoys or harasses the person and serves no legitimate purpose (A.R.S. 12-1809(R)), according to the website.

According to video recordings of the hearing purchased by the Queen Creek Independent from the San Marcos Justice Court, Lanny Brown’s petition, as read in court by Judge Frankel, stated on Aug. 5, 2016, the plaintiff’s (Lanny Brown) 16-year-old son was working in the garage of the family’s home with the garage door open when the defendant (Jeff Brown) pulled his car up to the end of the driveway and blocked the driveway. The defendant sat for several minutes staring at plaintiff’s minor child, according to the petition.

The defendant then pulled out his phone and began taking a series of pictures, Judge Frankel said in the recording.
In his petition, the plaintiff said his son was afraid the defendant was following and watching him. The plaintiff also said the defendant had been abrasive to him during a political event on July 30.

In his petition, as read by Judge Frankel, the plaintiff asked that the defendant be prohibited from the plaintiff’s residence and keep a reasonable distance from his home.

Judge Frankel then explained to the plaintiff for an injunction against harassment to be granted, the burden was on the plaintiff to establish a series of acts that constituted harassment. The judge then read Arizona statutes that could constitute harassment.

The plaintiff referred to the July 30 ice cream social, a political gathering for the defendant who was running for reelection to the town council.

The plaintiff told the judge that the defendant was extremely abrasive to him at the ice cream social. He said that when combined with the defendant’s actions at his home, it would meet the threshold of a series of acts.

When asked by the judge for more detail about the ice cream social, the plaintiff said the men engaged in conversation during which they disagreed with each other. He said the defendant pointed his finger at him and said he didn’t need to deal with someone like him. The plaintiff told the judge the defendant got aggressive and raised his voice, according to the video.

The plaintiff told the judge he wanted the defendant to apologize for parking in front of his house and scaring his children.

Brian Strong, the defendant’s attorney, then asked the plaintiff if he went to the ice cream social as a political event. The plaintiff replied he was invited but did not go there to express his political views, according to the video.

The plaintiff also said his son was not in court Aug. 18 to testify regarding the defendant’s actions at the plaintiff’s home.

The plaintiff then told the judge the defendant’s attorney admitted to him during a pre-hearing discussion in the hallway outside the courtroom that his defendant sat in front of the plaintiff’s home taking pictures of his minor child, according to the video.

Mr. Strong told the judge those were not his exact words. He said if his client were to testify, he would say he was in the neighborhood talking to people who supported him in the election and as he drove by the plaintiff’s house, he noticed the open garage. He said his client saw signs inside the garage that were in opposition to him and he stopped in the middle of the road and took some pictures on his cellphone, according to the video.

Mr. Strong continued speaking for the defendant, saying his client saw an individual in the garage but could not recognize it or tell that it was a minor. He said when the individual realized pictures were being taken, he closed the garage door and the client drove away, according to the video.

Judge Frankel then asked the defendant why he had stopped by the plaintiff’s house, adding the plaintiff had the right to put up signs.

The defendant replied he had been campaigning that day. He told the judge he did a double-take when he saw the signs in the plaintiff’s garage and took out his camera and took two pictures, according to the video.

When asked by the judge about his intentions regarding the pictures, the defendant replied he wasn’t sure. He said he hadn’t thought it through and he wanted to capture the signs. He added he wanted to find out who was responsible for the signs, according to the video.

The plaintiff then told the judge, based on his home’s out-of-the-way location, that he did not believe the defendant had randomly driven by his home.

The judge responded by saying even if the defendant had deliberately driven by, that act did not constitute harassment, according to the video.

The plaintiff said his minor-aged son had been scared all weekend by the defendant’s actions.

The plaintiff also said the defendant had shared the photos of his son with a Queen Creek resident who had shown them to other people.

“It’s inappropriate,” he said on the video.

When asked by the judge if he had shared the photos with someone and if that person had used them, the defendant said he had no knowledge of that. He said he knew of the person named by the plaintiff but said that was totally unrelated to his campaign, according to the video.

When asked by the judge if the photos had been posted anywhere, the plaintiff replied not to his knowledge.

Judge Frankel dismissed the case after the two men came to an agreement that Jeff Brown would not go to Lanny Brown’s property or take pictures of his house, according to the video.

Since Jeff Brown is a member of the Queen Creek Town Council, the Independent contacted the town of Queen Creek for a statement regarding the matter.

“The incident referenced by Lanny Brown involves Jeff Brown acting as a private citizen, not in his official capacity as a council member. As a result, the town will not be investigating the matter,” Constance Halonen-Wilson, the town’s public information officer, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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