Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, June 4, 2020


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DVRO Deciding Possession of Premises Proper Though Ownership Is Before Another Judge


By a MetNews Staff Writer




The Court of Appeal for this district has rejected the contention that possession of a condominium should not be decided on a motion for a domestic violence restraining order when the ownership of the property is the subject of separate litigation.

Justice Maria E. Stratton of Div. Eight wrote the opinion which was filed May 12 and certified for publication yesterday. It affirms a decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lynn H. Scaduto granting a domestic violence restraining order (“DVRO”) to Nicole Guest against her former boyfriend, Warren Braithwaite, and directing that Guest have possession of the condominium.

Ownership of the property, in the Monterey Hills area of Los Angeles, is an issue in litigation before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Keosian.

Was Drug Lord

Guest bought it while Braithwaite was in prison. Apprehended in a June 14, 2011 five-state Drug Enforcement Agency sting operation, he had masterminded a multimillion-dollar international drug cartel.

Upon his release in March 2016, Guest gave him a half interest in the condominium, at his insistence. They lived there together, but she moved out following a major argument and incidents leading her to be in fear of Braithwaite.

Scadato restored possession of the premises to Guest—which, Braithwaite argued, was improper, insisting that it’s up to Keosian to decide ownership.

Order Was Proper

Stratton wrote that the Domestic Violence Prevention Act and three Family Code sections “authorize a court to order the restrained party to move out of property and allow the protected party to use and possess the property,” declaring:

“While ownership of the property will be determined in the pending civil suit, the trial court had authority to make orders about the use and possession of the property. It properly did so.”

She went on to say:

“[T]he DVRO, including the move-out order and use/possession order, did not exceed the bounds of reason. Nicole was paying for the mortgage and property taxes for the Property. Her decision to move-out of the shared Property to escape further abuse and stalking amidst the filing of her DVRO request does not bar a trial court from using its authority to award a protected party with temporary use, control, and possession of a Property as part of a DVRO. We offer no opinion on the parties’ pending civil action over title to and ownership of the Property. But until that case concludes, Nicole has temporary possession and use of the Property pursuant to the terms of the November 27, 2018 DVRO granted by the trial court.”

The case is Nicole G. v. Braithwaite, B294228.

Attorneys on appeal were Anthony Willoughby and Anthony Willoughby II of Willoughby & Associates for Braithwaite and Marina Manoukian of ADLI Law Group for Guest.


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