Restrained: Judge rules in favor of county against 1 person, sides with other 2
A Nevada County judge on Thursday ruled against extending the temporary workplace restraining order that would have barred two Nevada County residents from access to the elections office.
Jacquelyn and Chip Mattoon may reclaim their firearms, but the third resident involved in the Jan. 20 incident in the office’s entryway will face longer-term consequences.
According to court documents, the judge who oversaw the two-day hearing this week found “clear and convincing evidence” that Teine Kenney “engaged in unlawful violence or made a credible threat of violence.”
Kenney, who surrendered her firearms after the temporary order was granted, will not have the right to bear arms until the three-year order, beginning Thursday, is lifted, County Counsel Kit Elliott said
Additionally, according to Elliott, Kenney may contact the clerk-recorder’s office via remote means — email, phone or mail — but cannot come within 25 feet of the physical office on the second floor of the Eric Rood Administrative Center.
Elliot said Kenney is also required to keep a 100-yard distance from Administrative Assistant Suzanne Hardin and Assistant Clerk-Recorder Natalie Adona.
“They cannot go to their home or workplace,” Elliott said, adding that the restrained party is technically permitted inside the county building.
The judge focused her attention on the three days in which the respondents entered the building and approached the elections office, although the three Nevada County residents were outside of the building everyday at 1 p.m. starting Jan. 15 to participate in a “Jericho Walk.”
Judge Angela Bradrick deemed the interaction in the door “a scuffle” in court documents, in which she described the interaction as caught by a cellphone camera.
“Although her hands were not used, it appears Respondent Kenney’s shoulder was placed against the door to prevent it from closing,” the document states. “But, at the same time, Ms. Hardin was trying to close the door and appears to use some force, as she grunted while doing so.”
After further dialogue, Hardin stepped back from the door. It was then that Kenney “slipped through the slightly larger opening.”
Bradrick said it was clear the door was not open for her, as the respondent had to turn sideways to walk through the entryway.
“Respondent Kenney first entered a room after being asked not to come in, then the very next day forcefully pushed a door open, which had been locked and after she had been told she could not enter,” court documents state. “This would cause any reasonable employee on the other side of that door to be fearful.”
Attorney Barry Pruett, who represented the trio involved in the Jan. 20 incident, said he found the document on the ruling to be “an interesting read.”
Like county counsel, Pruett said he had mixed feelings about the hearing’s outcome.
“We’ve submitted the commissioner to offer her opinion, and this is her opinion,” Pruett said. “My opinion on the matter is — and the court confirmed that opinion — Ms. Adona actually escalated the situation which actually led to the confrontation.”
Pruett said court documents describe Adona as “visibly angry and frustrated” on Jan. 19.
“The court found her behavior concerning, as her behavior appeared to escalate the situation and was only marginally rational,” Pruett read from the document.
Regarding Kenney’s amended restraining order, Pruett said Kenney’s actions are within the “lowest part of the threshold” for behavior that would have allowed for a permanent order.
“This is probably the least amount of conduct that I’ve ever seen the restraining order granted,” Pruett said. “As to the Mattoons, I’m flabbergasted.”
Elliott said her office had mixed feelings about the ruling.
“We appreciate the work that the court did on this matter,” Elliott said, adding that her team was pleased with the outcome against Kenney, as it makes county employees feel marginally more secure coming to work.
“We are disappointed but understand the court’s rulings against the Mattoons,” Elliott said. “One of our main issues is against the escalation of behavior and our employees not feeling safe — I think we’ve helped them.”
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at email@example.com
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