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Grant v. Wright

Decided: January 22, 1988.

REGINA M. GRANT, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SAMUEL L. WRIGHT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County.

Petrella, Dreier and Ashbey. The opinion of the court was delivered by Ashbey, J.A.D.

Ashbey

[222 NJSuper Page 193] On June 3, 1986, plaintiff Regina Grant filed a complaint pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-1 et seq.) in the Chancery Division, Family Part, against defendant Samuel Wright. In her complaint she sought a restraining order and exclusive possession of the parties' residence because of defendant's asserted harassments of her on May 26 and June 1, 1986. The court took testimony, and an ex parte order was entered forbidding defendant from returning to the scene, prohibiting defendant from having contact with

plaintiff and granting plaintiff temporary exclusive possession of their joint residence.

By order dated July 15, 1986, defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint was denied and the restraining order was made permanent. Defendant was given permission to remove his furniture and personal property from the premises and his motion for a stay was denied. Defendant appeals and we reverse.

On appeal from the July 15, 1986 order defendant contends:

I. The court erred in finding that defendant's conduct constituted harassment.

II. The court erred in awarding possession of the apartment to plaintiff, who had not been a party to a lease with the landlord.

III. The statute proscribing harassment is unconstitutionally vague.

IV. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is unconstitutional for permitting the ex parte removal of the legal occupier of premises prior to a hearing.

At trial the following facts were adduced. Sometime in September of 1984 plaintiff moved into defendant's apartment. They talked of buying a condominium but defendant expressed opposition to marrying plaintiff because she wanted children and he did not. In November of 1985, after discussions by both parties with the landlord, he agreed to lease another apartment on a month-to-month basis. There was no written lease, although defendant had been a tenant of the prior apartment for some years.

Plaintiff testified that the relationship started deteriorating in February 1986. In the beginning of May 1986, she started to hemorrhage and called her doctor. She also told defendant that she was pregnant. Her doctor advised her to go to the hospital. Defendant made no effort to assist her. Apparently the parties did not again discuss plaintiff's pregnancy until May 26, 1986. Defendant testified, however, that the knowledge of plaintiff's pregnancy bothered him, and plaintiff ...


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