The Montana Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a female officer with the Missoula Police Department who was a victim of stalking, saying she should not have to provide information – asked for in court proceedings – to her stalker.
Stacy Lear, a detective on the force, said that Carrie Jamrogowicz began stalking her in 2002, and that Jamrogowicz had stalked several other women going back to 1998, when the two first met in North Carolina.
During a span of nearly 10 years, Jamrogowicz allegedly changed her hairstyle to match Lear’s, enrolled in the same university as Lear, took the same classes, changed her major to match Lear’s, and claimed the same medical conditions.
Lear moved to Missoula in April 2004 and by that September, court records say, Jamrogowicz also had moved to Missoula. She joined the same shooting organization as Lear and approached Lear’s personal firearms instructor for lessons.
Lear was hired by the Missoula Police Department in 2005. While she kept the information private, Jamrogowicz posted the news to a public website. That same year, Jamrogowicz received a concealed weapon permit and began attending the same shooting competitions as Lear.
Jamrogowicz copied other aspects of Lear’s life, records say. She purchased the same automobile, joined the same gym, bought the same firearms equipment and camera, and claimed the same injury for which Lear was being treated.
Jamrogowicz also consulted the same doctor and therapist as Lear, and often showed up near Lear’s residence and office. Distressed by the developments, Lear missed work and sought counseling.
Lear reported Jamrogowicz’s behavior to her superiors at the Missoula Police Department in 2010. She received a temporary order of protection against Jamrogowicz in February 2012, and Jamrogowicz was charged with criminal stalking that July.
Jamrogowicz sought a discovery hearing in the charges against her. Two hearings were scheduled, but Lear didn’t attend either one.
The high court’s opinion, written by Supreme Court Justice Patricia Cotter, found no evidence in past cases suggesting that district courts could force discovery in matters related to the granting or denial of a temporary order of protection.
Forcing a victim of stalking to attend a discovery hearing wouldn’t protect the victim from harm. Rather, the court found, it only threatened to exacerbate the problem.
“For these reasons, we conclude that unless extraordinary circumstances justify it, courts should not compel a petitioner in a stalking matter to be subjected to discovery at the hands of the respondent,” Cotter wrote.
Joshua Van de Wetering, who represented Lear, and Quentin Rhoades, representing Jamrogowicz, didn’t return calls seeking comment on the case.