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Burrus v. Sawyer

January 4, 2008

BRENDA BURRUS, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
WALTER SAWYER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, FV-20-000838-07.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 24, 2007

Before Judges A. A. Rodríguez and C. S. Fisher.

Walter Sawyer appeals from the November 9, 2006 final restraining order (FRO) entered pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. Following a hearing, at which both parties appeared pro se, the judge found that Sawyer committed an act of harassment, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, against complainant Brenda Burrus. We affirm. These are the salient facts. Sawyer and Burrus have had an on/off dating relationship for many years. According to Burrus, she has been trying to end the relationship for the three years prior to the incident that gave rise to this complaint. On November 2, 2006, Sawyer was at a bar. He saw Burrus entering the same establishment. Just before Sawyer left the bar, he purchased a sandwich for Burrus, which she accepted. Sawyer left the bar and went to play golf.

From this point, the parties' versions differ. Burrus testified that on November 2, 2006, after leaving the bar, she noticed two cell phone messages from Sawyer. Both of the messages "weren't very nice." The messages expressed Sawyer's feeling "that I wasn't appreciative of the flowers he had sent me." In the messages, Sawyer called her a "bitch."

According to Burrus:

So I got angry. I mean, I went home. And well, I tried to call him from the cell phone in the car. And when I did, I didn't get an answer. So when I went home, I tried to call him back and I still didn't get an answer. So I called the house, which I never call his house. So his girlfriend answered the phone, which I thought was his girlfriend.

And she answers the phone and I told her to please ask him to leave me alone, I just want my life back, that for the last three years, I've been -- I've been just trying to go on with my life.

And then -- I was angry. And I was yelling and I was screaming. I wasn't angry at her. I didn't direct my conversation to her. It was anger towards him.

So I believe I called the house twice. . . .

Or maybe four times. I don't know. I was just very angry. So then I had told him I was going to come over the house. So I grabbed the flowers. And I left the house. And I went to his house. And I tossed the flowers in his driveway.

And I was getting back in my car. And as I was getting back in my car, he comes out the house. And I got in the car and I drove away. I left the house and I went -- and instead of making a right turn to go home -- no, I did make a right turn. I went down about two blocks. And then I made another right turn. Because I noticed he was ...


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