[196 NJSuper Page 93] This matter comes before the court on plaintiff's motion to transfer jurisdiction from the Vineland Municipal Court (complaint # 58940484) to the Superior Court, Family Part pursuant to the new Family Part rules governing transfer of actions R. 4:3-4(b).
Judith Brown, plaintiff, and Thomas Brown, defendant, were divorced on January 25, 1984 and he now lives with Tressa Brett.
The nature of the municipal court action is a complaint by Brett against Judith Brown charging her with making obscene and harassing phone calls. The pleadings show that this complaint is not the first one against Judith Brown and the court records reflect a pattern of behavior allegedly occurring during and since the divorce proceedings.
Mr. Brown objects to the transfer on the theory that Judith Brown is trying to avoid appearing in the municipal court where the judge had previously admonished her not to repeat this behavior. Mr. Brown suggests that if he were the complaining witness then the matter would properly be cognizable and transferrable to the Superior Court. However, Mr. Brown argues that because the complainant was Brett, the dispute does not belong in the Family Court.
This Court disagrees. New Jersey statutory law and the Rules of Court were recently amended to broaden the power and scope of the Superior Court in resolution of family disputes. To this end R. 4:3-4(b) "Transfer and Removal of Actions" and R. 5:1-2(c)(3) "Actions Cognizable" provide for transfer of a municipal court matter to the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part "provided that the gravamen of the offense or violation arises out of a family or family-type relationship between the defendant and a victim". For statutory authorization see N.J.S.A. 2A:4-3c:
Transfer of jurisdiction functions, powers and duties of courts, causes pending and files to Superior Court; exceptions:
The jurisdiction, functions, powers and duties of the county district courts and juvenile and domestic relations courts or family court and the causes pending therein and their files, shall be transferred to the Superior Court except as specified by sections 6 and 7 of this act.
Rules of the Supreme Court for the Family Part identify actions which may be transferred from municipal court:
5:1-2. Actions Cognizable
(3) Any non-indictable offense or violation pending in the municipal court and any indictable offense within the trial jurisdiction of the municipal court may be transferred for trial and disposition to the Family Part pursuant to R.5:1-3(b) provided that the gravamen of the offense or violation arises ...