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Goldman v. Tine


July 12, 2007


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Ocean County, FV-15-002048-06.

Per curiam.



Submitted February 7, 2007

Before Judges A. A. Rodríguez and Sabatino.

Defendant, Anthony W. Tine, appeals from the May 3, 2006 Final Restraining Order (FRO) pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. The FRO adjudicated Tine of having committed an act of domestic violence, harassment, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4a, against July 12, 2007 plaintiff, Sherry L. Goldman and restrained him from further contact with her.*fn1 We affirm.

This is a summary of the evidence presented at the TRO hearing. Tine and Goldman had a romantic relationship which ended in Spring 2005. They are the parents of a girl, born on September 16, 2003.

Goldman testified that on April 14, 2006, Good Friday, Tine called her twenty times and left numerous messages for her within a two-hour time period. She played for the court four of those messages. According to Goldman, in the telephone calls, Tine said that she: had a personality disorder; was a pathological liar, a trait that runs in her family; and needs someone to check out her head. He also accused her of using her social work education and license in an unethical way and that someone in the Attorney General's office should do something about that. Tine also accused her of mishandling their daughter and not providing adequate care. He called her an unfit person, unfit mother, and in need of psychiatric help. Goldman testified that during the course of the twenty telephone calls:

He called me, "a bitch." He speaks in this hostile and aggressive manner over several phone calls, and all the while I can hear my daughter in the background because she's with him on a visit. He stated I'm harming my daughter, he stated I'm evil, he states my entire family is evil. He states there's something wrong with me, I have a personality disorder, I have borderline personality disorder. He's going to demand that the Courts examine my head. He's going to put a motion in place to make that happen.

According to Goldman, on April 26, 2006, Tine threatened her with a report to DYFS for harming their daughter, "by putting pants on her that are too small and damaging [] her." She testified further that:

On the 26th of April he left a message stating, "[daughter] has two ingrown toenails and severe diaper rash," and that I'm negligent. This is just one of many. And I've actually asked the doctor about her toenails, and they're fine.

Tine alleged that Goldman had put ill-fitting pants on their daughter and this caused the child harm.

Some of Goldman's testimony was corroborated by her witness, Rosemary Jones. According to Jones, on Good Friday 2006, she came into Goldman's house and listened to a message left by a man on a telephone answering machine. Jones testified that the first words were, "Listen bitch." However, Jones could not identify the voice, because she does not know Tine. Jones could hear Goldman and Tine's daughter in the background.

Tine testified and admitted telephoning Goldman three times on Good Friday 2006. He admitted: calling Goldman a bitch "once, venting some frustration" . . ., as well as "a pathological liar;" "in need of help;" "suffering from a personality disorder;" and "needing to check out her head." The judge found Goldman had proven that Tine had committed harassment and entered the FRO.*fn2

On appeal, Tine challenges the adjudication by the judge that Tine committed conduct constituting harassment. He points to parts of Goldman's testimony, which he argues are inconsistent. Essentially, Tine disagrees with the facts as found by the judge. However, "[a] trial court's findings of fact are binding on an appellate court if supported by adequate and credible evidence. Bonnco Petrol, Inc. v. Epstein, 115 N.J. 599, 607 (1989) (citing Rova Farms Resort v. Investors Ins. Co., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974)). "This is particularly so when, . . . the significant evidence is largely testimonial rather than documentary, and the trial court has had the opportunity to observe the witnesses and determine their credibility." Bonnco Petrol, Inc., supra, 115 N.J. at 607. We do not have the same opportunity to hear and see the witnesses' testimony and assess their credibility. Ibid. Accordingly, substantial deference must be given the trial judge's determination in that regard. State v. Dangerfield, 171 N.J. 446, 456-57 (2002); State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146, 161-62 (1964).

Here, we have reviewed the record and conclude that there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the trial judge's findings. Tine has not satisfied his burden of showing that the judge's findings are "clearly a mistaken . . . and so plainly unwarranted that the interests of justice demand intervention and correction." State v. Wakefield, 190 N.J. 397, 495 (2007) (quoting Johnson, supra, 42 N.J. at 162); R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A). Therefore, there is no basis for a reversal.

The FRO is affirmed.

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