Submitted January 26, 1998
Before Judges Petrella, Skillman and Eichen.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Skillman, J.A.D.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
This is a domestic violence case. The predicate for the trial court's assumption of jurisdiction under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (the Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:15-17 to -33, was that the parties had a brief dating relationship in high school which ended in 1993. *fn1 On June 28, 1996, plaintiff filed a domestic violence complaint against defendant. On July 2, 1996, the court held a hearing and based on the evidence presented entered an order dismissing the complaint.
On February 24, 1997, plaintiff filed a second domestic violence complaint against defendant. The only act of domestic violence alleged in the complaint was "eaving notes on [plaintiff's] vehicle while it was parked at her work place." The complaint also alleged a history of domestic violence consisting of defendant having "ssaulted plaintiff by slapping her in face" on a prior occasion for which no date was specified.
A final hearing on the complaint before a different Judge than the one who had heard the June 28, 1996 complaint was held on March 4, 1997. Plaintiff testified that defendant grabbed her by the throat and slapped her in the face while they were dating in high school in the spring of 1993. Plaintiff also testified that after they broke up, defendant made harassing telephone calls to her and would frequently drive past her house. In addition, defendant spit in her face at a party one time because she would not talk to him. According to plaintiff, in April 1996, defendant began coming to her place of employment, a retail establishment called Sneaker Stadium, on which occasions he called her a "hore, slut, bitch" and threatened to kill her. Plaintiff did not indicate that any of these incidents occurred subsequent to the July 2, 1996 hearing which had resulted in the dismissal of her prior domestic violence complaint. The plaintiff also introduced into evidence the note which was the subject of her new complaint, which read: "Please page me 290-6512. I would like to talk to you. It's a must. Thanks."
After plaintiff completed her testimony, the trial court had the following colloquy with defendant, who was appearing pro se:
All right. Sir do you have questions? Do you want to make a statement?
: It's not my handwriting. I have witnesses stating where I was at this --, at the time that this was --
Sir, do you want to make a statement? Give me your statement.
Do you want to make a statement about all the allegations, sir? What's your statement?
: My statement is, we were in court for this already. It was dropped. And ...