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In re Sobin

October 18, 2007

IN RE DENNIS P. SOBIN, APPELLANT.


Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CPO-3586-02) (Hon. William M. Jackson, Trial Judge).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Washington, Chief Judge

Submitted February 13, 2007

Before WASHINGTON, Chief Judge, FARRELL, Associate Judge, and SCHWELB, Senior Judge.

Opinion for the court by Chief Judge WASHINGTON.

Concurring opinion by Senior Judge SCHWELB at p.7.

Dennis P. Sobin ("appellant"), appeals the trial court's judgment finding him guilty of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a Civil Protection Order ("CPO") which prohibited any contact with his son, Darrin Sobin. We affirm.

I.

This case stems from a long-standing, contentious family situation. For a number of years, appellant sought to re-establish regular contact with his son. For reasons too numerous to recite here, Darrin Sobin did not want any contact with his father. He ultimately sought a CPO from the District of Columbia Superior Court, Domestic Violence Unit. The parties engaged in two mediation sessions to see if they could reach some agreement regarding a future relationship. Mediation failed, and Darrin Sobin again sought entry of the CPO.

On March 9, 2004, the Superior Court granted Darrin Sobin's request for a CPO against appellant. The CPO stated in relevant part that appellant:

shall not contact [Darrin Sobin] in any manner, including but not limited to: by telephone, in writing, in any manner, either directly or indirectly through a third party. No e-mail, electronic mail, or other communication devices.

Appellant was served with a copy of the CPO. On November 19, 2004, appellant filed a lawsuit*fn1 against Darrin Sobin regarding an inheritance claim; however, appellant failed to serve the complaint on his son. At a status conference, Marian Riedy represented Darrin Sobin and requested that the court dismiss the case due to appellant's failure to serve Darrin Sobin. The trial court dismissed the case. As the parties left the courtroom, appellant approached Ms. Riedy and asked for her name and business address. In addition, appellant asked Ms. Riedy to tell Darrin Sobin that he would be giving a press conference the following morning and that he wanted his son to attend. Appellant also attempted to give Ms. Riedy a brochure about an organization he was associated with, asking her to deliver it to his son. At the same time, appellant said nothing to Ms. Riedy about the case that had just been dismissed, and Ms. Riedy had not represented Darrin Sobin at all in the CPO proceeding. On November 21, 2004, appellant sent a follow-up e-mail to Ms. Riedy discussing their encounter and the press conference. Appellant testified that he was aware of the CPO when he communicated with Ms. Riedy and he acknowledged that he encountered Ms. Riedy after the court hearing. Appellant had no other contact with his son or any other individual mentioned in the CPO.

The trial court found appellant guilty of criminal contempt because he knowingly and voluntarily asked Darrin Sobin's counsel, Ms. Riedy, to contact his son for him in violation of the CPO.

II.

Appellant asserts that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of ...


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