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Purifoy v. Mafa

Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

September 28, 2017

SHAYLA NICOLE PURIFOY
v.
DEVINE MAFA

          Session June 28, 2017

          Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Shelby County No. CT00085414 Donna M. Fields, Judge

         After a lengthy hearing, the trial court granted an order of protection to the appellee based upon its finding that the appellant was stalking and harassing her. The trial court denied the appellant's counter-petition for an order of protection. The appellant raises ten issues on appeal. For the following reasons, we affirm and remand for further proceedings.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed and

         Remanded

          Carol Chumney, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Devine Mafa.

          Marty Brett McAfee, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Shayla Nicole Purifoy.

          Brandon O. Gibson, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. Steven Stafford, P. J., W.S., and Kenny Armstrong, J., joined.

          OPINION

          BRANDON O. GIBSON, JUDGE

         I. Facts & Procedural History

         The parties to this appeal have been involved in three separate lawsuits. Shayla Purifoy worked as a staff attorney at Memphis Area Legal Services and represents victims of domestic violence. Devine Mafa is an occupational therapist who came to the United States from Zimbabwe around 2000.

         In March 2013, Ms. Purifoy testified at an order of protection hearing involving Dr. Mafa. The petitioner in that proceeding was a student Ms. Purifoy knew from coaching a mock trial team. The student had previously dated Dr. Mafa and was seeking to extend an order of protection against him; Dr. Mafa was also seeking an order of protection against the student. Ms. Purifoy testified very briefly, for approximately five minutes, about factual matters. She testified regarding the mock trial team's cell phone policy and whether the student would have had access to her phone at a time when she allegedly sent messages to Dr. Mafa. Ms. Purifoy was also asked if she had seen Dr. Mafa outside of court, and she described an incident in which she had observed him being detained by police outside a bar called the Silly Goose. The proceeding was eventually dismissed, with no order of protection being entered in favor of either the student or Dr. Mafa.

         Approximately eight months later, in early December 2013, Ms. Purifoy received a "friend request" from Dr. Mafa on Facebook. Dr. Mafa's Facebook page was not titled with his own name but was under the alias "Steele Balz." However, Ms. Purifoy recognized that the page belonged to Dr. Mafa because some of her mock trial students had showed her the page in the past. Ms. Purifoy did not accept Dr. Mafa's friend request. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Purifoy was contacted by some of her colleagues who alerted her to the fact that Dr. Mafa was posting videos about her publicly on Facebook. One video contained the written title: "Arrest this BLACK MAN BECAUSE HE'S BLACK. MY PROSECUTION BY AN #ANGRYBLACKWOMAN - ESQ SHAYLA NICOLE PURIFOY." The other video contained a caption stating that Ms. Purifoy lied and "used Racial Codes on the stand" that would make the KKK smile and honor her as the grand wizard. In the lengthy videos, Dr. Mafa "ranted" about his experience with Ms. Purifoy and spoke directly to her, stating things like,

For you as a black woman, you should know better. You should have your mind checked out. You should know that you don't do that. . . . [Y]ou are a shame. Shayla Nicole, you are a shame. You should be ashamed of yourself. Anyway, I had to rant to you a little bit... .
.... You should be ashamed of yourself, Shayla Nicole. I didn't know your name then. I know it now.

         Dr. Mafa stated in the video that Ms. Purifoy could get disbarred for her actions and mentioned calling "the Board" but said that he was not going to do that to another black professional. However, he said, "that hurt me. It crushed my heart." Dr. Mafa said in the video he initially thought that Ms. Purifoy was beautiful and elegant but that he no longer did. In the second video, Dr. Mafa called Ms. Purifoy "a racist lawyer" and said that her actions rose "to a level of impropriety when it comes to the Board of Professional Responsibility." He said he hoped that one day he could forgive her, but he also compared her actions to someone going to war with chemical weapons and said, "that's not acceptable, you'll be held responsible."

         On December 14, 2013, Ms. Purifoy contacted Dr. Mafa by sending him a private message on Facebook. She asked Dr. Mafa to remove her photographs from his posts and to discuss any issues with her directly rather than posting in a public forum. She explained that she testified truthfully under oath and asked him not to tarnish her reputation in the community. Dr. Mafa did not respond to this message or remove the posts.

         On December 19, 2013, Ms. Purifoy filed a complaint in circuit court against Dr. Mafa alleging defamation in the form of libel and negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress. She sought an immediate temporary restraining order and also permanent injunctive relief regarding the public posts and video statements. That same day, the circuit court entered a temporary restraining order enjoining Dr. Mafa from posting Ms. Purifoy's name or pictures online or in any format; contacting Ms. Purifoy, her family, or her employer directly or indirectly; entering the building where she worked for any purpose; being present in any location where she was located; or speaking publicly about the case. Dr. Mafa was also ordered to remove all posts about Ms. Purifoy immediately.

         The complaint and temporary restraining order both contain a certificate of service indicating that they were mailed to Dr. Mafa's residence.[1] Service on Dr. Mafa was attempted by the sheriffs office and a private process server, but their attempts were unsuccessful. However, Dr. Mafa apparently became aware of the lawsuit because another lengthy message was posted on his Facebook page later in December, with the following statements:

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF TENNESSEE FOR THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT AT MEMPHIS SHELBY COUNTY
SHAYLA NICOLE PURIFOY plaintiff
Vs
THE GREAT Steele Balz AKA #GOD
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs complaint
Hey Yee Lord, Judge in the chamber wearing the black hood looking all important, comes he before yee this scholarly defendant named Steele Balz. He seek[s] to dismiss and throw away this docket into the trash where the pigs reside. . . . [Communication decency act CDA 47 U.S.C. 230-c-l provides gives him his godly powers to speech as he pleases on the computer. . . .
.... Your judgement for her would change American law and warn you. [W]e are watching you judge.

         Around Christmas, Dr. Mafa continued to post additional pictures of Ms. Purifoy, apparently obtained from a Young Lawyers Division bulletin, juxtaposed beside pictures of his ex-girlfriend (the student from the mock trial team).

         On December 31, 2013, Ms. Purifoy and Dr. Mafa had an encounter at the Silly Goose bar. Ms. Purifoy had previously informed the bouncer that she was trying to obtain service of process on Dr. Mafa. When she arrived with a friend on New Year's Eve, the bouncer told them that Dr. Mafa was inside. Ms. Purifoy called the private process server then proceeded inside. The private process server never came. Ms. Purifoy and Dr. Mafa had a brief encounter at the bar, but their versions of what occurred vary tremendously. According to Ms. Purifoy, she approached Dr. Mafa and said something along the lines of "Don't you think you shouldn't be here?", but Dr. Mafa acted like he did not know Ms. Purifoy, so she turned and walked away.

         The next day, Dr. Mafa's Facebook page contained another photograph of Ms. Purifoy and a lengthy post about the New Year's Eve encounter, stating that "2014 started with WAR for me." According to Dr. Mafa's post, he was near the bar and saw Ms. Purifoy approaching him and pointing at him, then she cursed at him and told him that he had better leave. Dr. Mafa's post said that Ms. Purifoy "looked kinda cute last night and my heart softened." He continued to describe her body and appearance and said she "was turning me on" by making wild gestures. The post stated that Ms. Purifoy "was almost close to punch me last night, i would have liked it." The next day, on January 2, Dr. Mafa contacted the Memphis Police Department and reported that Ms. Purifoy had assaulted him on New Year's Eve. According to Dr. Mafa's later testimony about the events, Ms. Purifoy approached him from behind and hit him in the back of the head then started punching him in the forehead and chest. Dr. Mafa said he became so scared that he almost lost consciousness.

         After a hearing in the defamation suit, the circuit court entered a permanent injunction on January 13, 2014, prohibiting Dr. Mafa from doing the acts previously enjoined by the temporary restraining order. Dr. Mafa did not appear at the injunction hearing, but the circuit court's order states that Ms. Purifoy testified under oath. The circuit court's order references testimony that notice had been sent to Dr. Mafa via certified mail and that attempts were made to serve him by the sheriffs office and a private process server. The order states that "Defendant [h]as indicated through his own communications that he is aware of this filing (see attachment)."[2] The permanent injunction enjoined Dr. Mafa from posting Ms. Purifoy's picture or name online or in any format; contacting Ms. Purifoy or her family or employer; entering the buildings where she worked for any purpose; or being in any location where she was present.

         Ten days later, on January 23, Dr. Mafa went to the Family Safety Center in Memphis. Ms. Purifoy maintains an office at the Family Safety Center, and she had previously provided pictures of Dr. Mafa to the security personnel at the Family Safety Center's security checkpoint. As a result, Dr. Mafa was not permitted to enter the building. According to Dr. Mafa, he went to the Family Safety Center in order to obtain an order of protection against Ms. Purifoy based on the alleged attack at the Silly Goose on New Year's Eve. Dr. Mafa claimed no knowledge of the fact that Ms. Purifoy maintained an office there. Despite the "motion to dismiss" posted on his Facebook page in December 2013, Dr. Mafa also claimed that this incident at the Family Safety Center on January 23, 2014, first made him aware of the defamation suit filed by Ms. Purifoy, as the security personnel informed him that there was a court order against him. On February 12, 2014, Dr. Mafa made his first appearance in the defamation suit, filing a motion to set aside the permanent injunction order on the basis that he had no notice of the proceeding before the entry of the injunction. Rather than seeking dismissal, however, Dr. Mafa's motion asked the court "to set aside the previous order of default entered in this matter and to reinstate the temporary injunction, and set a new hearing date that will give Defendant time to investigate and answer this complaint."

         On February 20, 2014, Ms. Purifoy's identical twin sister allegedly saw Dr. Mafa in the employee parking lot of the Family Safety Center as she left the building after-hours, shortly after 6:00 p.m. Dr. Mafa was allegedly parked right across from her car, where he was leaning against his vehicle smoking a cigar. She drove away without incident but informed Ms. Purifoy of the encounter.

         On February 26, 2014, Ms. Purifoy instituted this action by filing a petition for order of protection in circuit court, alleging that Dr. Mafa was stalking her.[3] On the same day the petition was filed, the circuit court entered an ex parte order of protection pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-3-605(a) upon finding that Ms. Purifoy was under an immediate and present danger of abuse.[4] The ex parte order of protection prohibited Dr. Mafa from contacting, stalking, threatening, abusing, or coming about Ms. Purifoy for any purpose. The ex parte order of protection provided that a hearing would be held two days later on February 28, 2014.

         A hearing was held on February 28, 2014. We do not have a transcript of the hearing in the record before us, but the written orders entered after the hearing address matters from both the defamation case and the order of protection case. The circuit court entered a "Transfer and Joinder Order, " which states:

Comes now the Plaintiff, Shayla Purifoy, by and through her attorney of record, Marty McAfee and makes an oral motion to transfer the Petition for Order of Protection and Hearing from Division III to Division 1, due to a related matter, CT-005435-13, being heard in Division I. Plaintiff also requests that such matter be joined with docket number CT-005435-13, as a separate cause of action, due to judicial efficiency. This does not preclude Plaintiff from receiving separate remedies available through each cause of action but allows related matters to be heard simultaneously as the Court deems appropriate.

         The Transfer and Joinder Order was signed by the judge approving the transfer, Judge Karen Williams, and also by the judge accepting the transfer, Judge John McCarroll. Judge McCarroll also signed a "Continuance Order" on February 28 stating that the motion to set aside the permanent injunction (filed in the defamation case) came before the court and was continued until a later date when the petition for order of protection would also be heard. The order states that "[t]he Petition for Order of Protection, [and] Ex Parte Order of Protection . . . were filed by Plaintiff and hand-delivered to Defendant Devine Mafa/Defendant's Attorney (circle) in court on February 28, 2014 at 11 AM." The court entered another ex parte order of protection and set a hearing for April 4, 2014. On April 4, however, a continuance order was entered continuing the hearing on both matters "at the request of [Dr. Mafia]." The order provided that the ex parte order of protection and permanent injunction would remain in place until the next hearing on May 30. On May 30, the matter was continued again until July 17.

         On July 17 and 18, Judge McCarroll heard testimony regarding the petition for an order of protection. The executive director of Memphis Area Legal Services was called to testify as the last witness, which led Judge McCarroll to advise the parties that he had solicited contributions for Memphis Area Legal Services in connection with a "Campaign for Equal Justice." Dr. Mafia requested recusal, and Judge McCarroll entered an order recusing himself that same day. Also on July 17, Judge Gina Higgins signed another ex parte order of protection by interchange and set the matter for hearing on August 29.

         Judge Donna Fields signed an additional ex parte order of protection on August 29 and set the matter for hearing on September 26. A flurry of activity occurred in the case in September before the hearing. Dr. Mafia sought to depose Ms. Purifoy. Because he had also recently filed a pro se motion to dismiss the defamation case that included outrageous allegations against Ms. Purifoy, [5] she filed a motion for a protective order precluding her deposition and a motion to seal the case. Days before the hearing set for September 26, Dr. Mafia filed a counter-petition seeking an order of protection against Ms. Purifoy, alleging that she was stalking him. Thereafter, his attorney moved to withdraw.

         At the hearing before Judge Fields on September 26, 2014, she granted the motion to withdraw filed by Dr. Mafia's attorney and entered an order sealing the record. Judge Fields indicated that her priority was to have a hearing on the petition for order of protection prior to resolving the defamation case. She asked Dr. Mafia to retain another attorney as soon as possible and set the final hearing in the order of protection case for October 2014.

         Dr. Mafia filed a request for a thirty to ninety day continuance to allow him to conduct discovery and retain another attorney. He also requested an interpreter. At a hearing on October 10, 2014, Judge Fields denied Dr. Mafia's request for an interpreter, observing that he has two PhD's from the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge in England and "speaks perfect English." Judge Fields also ruled against Dr. Mafa on some other matters and stated that the ex parte order of protection would be extended once again, until the date of the final hearing on October 27. After the hearing, Dr. Mafa filed a motion to recuse Judge Fields. He alleged that Judge Fields was biased against Facebook users and that she did not have the patience to allow him to articulate his speech. He also argued that recusal was warranted because Ms. Purifoy was a lawyer who had practiced in Judge Fields' courtroom. He claimed that Judge Fields had demonstrated bias by ruling in Ms. Purifoy's favor on various issues. In an amended motion for recusal, Dr. Mafa further alleged that he had been "regularly threatened with the bailiff." He asserted that Judge Fields was biased against foreigners, Facebook users, and non-attorneys. Ms. Purifoy filed a response to the recusal motion arguing that recusal was not warranted. She also represented that Dr. Mafa did not confer with her attorney before selecting Friday, October 24, 2014, as the hearing date for the recusal motion. In the response, Ms. Purifoy's counsel represented that he had a prior court date set on Friday, October 24, which could take considerable time and cause him to miss the hearing on the recusal motion. Counsel argued that no hearing was necessary for the recusal motion and suggested that "this decision can be made, subject to the approval of the Court, at the beginning of the hearing set on Monday, October 27, 2014 or prior to this hearing." (Emphasis added.) The record contains no action by the court in response to this request for the court to decide the matter without a hearing.

         On Friday, October 24, 2014, counsel for Ms. Purifoy appeared at the hearing set by Dr. Mafa for his recusal motion. Dr. Mafa did not appear. The transcript of the October 24 hearing is in the record before us, and it indicates that the "hearing" lasted two minutes, from 9:32 to 9:34 a.m. The transcript of the exchange between Judge Fields and Ms. Purifoy's counsel spans only three pages. At the outset, Judge Fields asked Ms. Purifoy's counsel if he had received a copy of an email she had just received that morning from Dr. Mafa, in which he stated that he was "scared to come to [her] court" and "will not be present for the motion" but demanded that Judge Fields recuse herself or else he would file a board complaint against her. When counsel answered in the negative, Judge Fields replied that she was going to reset the recusal matter for the beginning of the previously scheduled final hearing on Monday. Because Dr. Mafa's proposed board complaint indicated that a tape would be provided to support his allegations, she asked counsel if there was a transcript of the previous two court appearances and said she would like to review those. Judge Fields also instructed counsel for Ms. Purifoy to send a letter to Dr. Mafa telling him that if he was recording the proceedings, he was to bring the tape and the person who was making the recording to the next hearing. Counsel for Ms. Purifoy then informed the court that he had also received a message from Dr. Mafa, the night before the hearing, which stated that Dr. Mafa had hired a private investigator to conduct extensive research about Ms. Purifoy and her attorney. Counsel for Ms. Purifoy informed the court that it gave him "great pause" and "quite a bit of concern" that Dr. Mafa had hired a private investigator in the midst of an order of protection proceeding. Judge Fields directed him to take the message to the district attorney, stating, "This is getting out of control." Judge Fields added, "I will not be intimidated by some litigant who is representing himself pro se, and if he's afraid of me, that's his problem. But I suspect he's not afraid of me or you or anybody else."[6]

         On Monday, October 27, 2014, Dr. Mafa appeared at the final hearing on the order of protection matter with a newly retained attorney. At the beginning of the hearing, Ms. Purifoy's counsel mentioned his appearance at the Friday hearing. Dr. Mafa's new attorney apologized on his behalf for the fact that he did not appear. After a lengthy discussion, Dr. Mafa's attorney announced that he was not pursuing the board complaint against Judge Fields. A written order was entered stating that Dr. Mafa had decided to proceed and withdrew his motion for recusal upon representations by the court that she could fairly and impartially decide the matter. The trial court heard extensive testimony over the course of two days regarding the petition for order of protection filed by Ms. Purifoy and the counter-petition for order of protection filed by Dr. Mafa. The court heard testimony from Ms. Purifoy, Dr. Mafa, and nine other witnesses. Several written posts and videos from Dr. Mafa's Facebook page were entered into evidence. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court announced her ruling in favor of Ms. Purifoy. The trial court found that Dr. Mafa was stalking and harassing Ms. Purifoy. The trial court referenced the Facebook videos and written posts by Dr. Mafa and concluded that they would give any reasonable person reason to be afraid of what he might do. Aside from the Facebook posts, the trial court found that Dr. Mafa was also seen in the parking lot of Ms. Purifoy's place of employment, at the Family Safety Center. The court also noted that Dr. Mafa sent an email to Ms. Purifoy's attorney stating that he had hired a private investigator to conduct extensive research on her, despite the existence of the ex parte order of protection and permanent injunction. The trial court found that Dr. Mafa's email "was sent for intimidation" and "can't be called anything but harassment or intimidation." The trial court also referenced proof introduced by Ms. Purifoy to suggest that Dr. Mafa had experienced many "incidents in the legal system" with numerous other individuals. The trial court concluded that "Mr. Mafa is a man who deals in drama. He's paranoid. He truly believes there's a conspiracy, that everyone's out there to get him." Based upon the court's conclusion that Ms. Purifoy was rightfully afraid of Dr. Mafa, the trial court granted Ms. Purifoy an order of protection against him for one year. The trial court concluded that Dr. Mafa was not afraid of Ms. Purifoy, and it found his testimony that Ms. Purifoy struck him on New Year's Eve was not credible. The trial court denied his request for an order of protection. The trial court signed a standard form order of protection for Ms. Purifoy at the conclusion of the hearing, and it also entered a separate order with additional written findings thereafter and incorporated by reference its lengthy oral ruling.

         On December 11, 2014, approximately six weeks after the conclusion of the final hearing, Dr. Mafa filed a "Request for Designation of Extra-County Judge Pursuant to Shelby County Circuit Court Local Rule Twenty-One." Dr. Mafa asked for an extra-county judge to hear the proceedings going forward, including his motion to reconsider or alter or amend or for new trial and Ms. Purifoy's pending request for attorney's fees, due to the fact that Ms. Purifoy practices as an attorney in Shelby County. The following day, the trial court entered an order partially granting Ms. Purifoy's request for attorney's fees pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated 36-3-617.

         Dr. Mafa filed a notice of appeal under the docket number of the order of protection case and a separate notice of appeal under the docket number of the defamation case, even though that case had not yet been tried. The notice of appeal for the order of protection case was also filed prematurely, after the conclusion of the final hearing but before the trial court entered its orders containing its factual findings and resolving the pending post-trial motions. On March 25, 2015, the trial court entered its orders granting Ms. Purifoy's petition for order of protection, denying Dr. Mafa's petition for order of protection, denying Dr. Mafa's request for an extra-county judge, and denying Dr. Mafa's motion to reconsider, alter or amend, or for new trial.

         Ms. Purifoy filed an additional post-trial motion in the trial court seeking to correct a "clerical error" on the judgment awarding her attorney's fees due to the fact that it listed the docket number for the defamation case rather than the docket number for the order of protection case. Ms. Purifoy also filed a motion in the Court of Appeals seeking a remand for correction of this "clerical mistake." On October 5, 2015, this Court entered an order granting Ms. Purifoy's motion for a remand "for the limited purpose of correcting a clerical mistake on an order contained in the appellate record." This Court's order directed the circuit court clerk to transmit a supplemental record to this Court after entry of the corrected order. We denied a motion to reconsider or vacate this order, filed by Dr. Mafa, explaining that any differences regarding whether the record accurately discloses what occurred in the trial court are to be submitted to and settled by the trial court pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 24(e). On December 22, 2015, we entered an order dismissing the appeal that Dr. Mafa filed in the defamation case, as it was apparent that there was no final judgment resolving that matter.

          While the appeal of the order of protection case was on remand for correction of the record, the parties discovered that a great deal of the filings from the order of protection case had been mistakenly filed in the record for the defamation case. At a hearing before Judge Fields on April 1, 2016, the parties' attorneys conceded that both parties had filed various documents listing the wrong docket number. Later in this same hearing, Dr. Mafa's counsel indicated that she had "briefed in the Court of Appeals" an argument suggesting that Judge Fields should be recused based on an ex parte communication that allegedly occurred prior to the final hearing. The following exchange occurred:

THE COURT: Is there a motion for recusal?
[Dr. Mafa's attorney:] No. I don't have a motion before the court today. I don't.

         Judge Fields directed counsel to file a motion to recuse along with a transcript of the allegedly improper statement.[7] Then, regarding the motion to correct the record, Judge Fields directed the parties and their attorneys to meet with the clerk, sort through the files for both of the cases, and divide the filings between the two records based on their substantive content, not the docket number originally listed on the document.

         Two months later, on June 1, 2016, Dr. Mafa filed a written "Memorandum of Law in support of the Motion for Recusal of Judge Fields."[8] He claimed that while reviewing the appellate record, he and his counsel "learned for the first time that the Court had an ex parte communication with opposing counsel [] on October 24, 2014." (This was the date of the two-minute Friday morning recusal hearing, when Dr. Mafa did not appear, before the final hearing commenced on Monday, October 27, 2014.) Dr. Mafa referenced the fact that Judge Fields directed counsel to take Dr. Mafa's message about the private investigator to the district attorney. Dr. Mafa alleged that this action "appeared to form an inappropriate pact" between Judge Fields and counsel for Ms. Purifoy and that he would not have withdrawn his recusal motion the following Monday if he had known about this instruction. Dr. Mafa argued that this statement, combined with other statements and rulings made by Judge Fields throughout the proceeding, entitled him to a new trial before a different trial judge. Ms. Purifoy filed a response, arguing that Dr. Mafa's recusal motion was untimely and also lacked substantive merit.[9]

         On July 29, 2016, the trial court entered an "Order to Correct the Record" in both the defamation case and the order of protection case. The court found that numerous documents were filed by both parties with the wrong docket number, resulting in each of the court files containing filings clearly meant for the other case. The court found that the substance of the motions and transcripts was not affected by the erroneous numbering. As such, the court designated 63 separate filings and transcripts to be moved to the appropriate court file pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 24(e).[10]The parties also entered into a "stipulation order" providing that all documents from the defamation case would be included in the record in this appeal as well. Because Dr. Mafa had already filed his appellant's brief on appeal, he sought and was granted permission to file a new brief.

         On August 30, 2016, Judge Fields entered an order addressing Dr. Mafa's recusal motion. Judge Fields found that Dr. Mafa's recusal motion was "replete with untrue, misstated and mischaracterized statements (by lack of context) which are carelessly presented, without proper investigation." The court discussed numerous statements and rulings that Dr. Mafa claimed showed bias and explained why each claim was meritless. As for the allegedly newly-discovered "ex parte communication" at the October 24, 2014 hearing, the trial court found:

         Mafa has repeatedly complained that [Ms. Purifoy's counsel] Mr. McAfee had an ex parte communication with the Court, when in reality it was Mafa who sent an email to the Court without sending a copy to opposing counsel, which counsel appeared on a date Mafa had set that motion. The email was not only an ex parte communication, but was an outright threat that if this Court did not recuse itself that he (Mafa) would file a complaint to the Board of Judicial Conduct, which Mafa did and which was dismissed.

On the Motion date, Mr. McAfee, on behalf of Purifoy, attempted to call to the Court's attention an allegation of some sort of criminal behavior. This Court dismissed him and told him to go report that to the District Attorney, Amy [Weirich], who has criminal jurisdiction, because Circuit Court does not. Mafa felt that was an attempt on the part of the Court to get him into trouble in Criminal Court, and thus shows bias. It merely shows lack of Jurisdiction, and Mafa's paranoia.

(Paragraph lettering omitted.) In sum, the trial court found that Dr. Mafa's allegations were "terribly distorted and many untrue." The August 30, 2016 order concluded, though, with the following paragraph:

However, in light of this Court's retirement date of August 31, 2016, and not because of anything mentioned herein, this Court has chosen to recuse herself and leave Mafa and Purifoy to the next computer chosen judge. It is this Court's fervent hope that she will be in a distant state or country when this matter goes to trial.[11]
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that Judge Donna M. Fields is recusing herself and refers this matter to the clerk for a randomly selected judge to hear the remainder of this matter.

         On December 23, 2016, Dr. Mafa filed a motion to consider post-judgment facts in this Court, asking us to consider the fact that Judge Fields had recused herself from both cases on August 30, 2016. This Court denied the motion to consider post-judgment facts on January 20, 2017. However, the circuit court clerk supplemented the record on appeal with an additional volume containing the order of recusal and related filings, so they now appear in the record before us.

          II. Issues Presented[12]

         Dr. Mafa presents the following issues, as we perceive them, for review on appeal:

1. Should the judgment be set aside due to the recusal of Judge Fields;[13]
2. Did the trial court err in denying the post-trial motion for an extra-county judge filed pursuant to a local rule;
3. Did the trial court err in entering an order of protection when Dr. Mafa was never served with a petition for order of protection;
4. Did the trial court err in finding that Dr. Mafa stalked ...

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