June 9, 2008
EVELINE BENNETT, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
ARTHUR BENNETT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FV-02-1159-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 12, 2007
Before Judges Collester and C.L. Miniman.
Defendant Arthur Bennett appeals from a final restraining order (FRO) entered on December 26, 2006, restraining defendant from any contact with his wife, plaintiff Eveline Bennett. We affirm.
On November 25, 2006, plaintiff signed a domestic violence complaint and received a temporary restraining order prohibiting defendant from any contact with her as well as prohibiting him from plaintiff's residence, her place of employment, and Ziggy's Tavern. In her complaint plaintiff alleged that defendant came to her residence on November 23, 2006 and demanded entry. When she refused to talk with him, he began to kick the door. Plaintiff held the door shut and called police on her cell phone. By the time the police arrived, defendant had left. Later that night and the following day he left numerous messages on her phone including one in which he threatened to try "to get her out of the country." Plaintiff further alleged that on September 16, 2006 she was physically assaulted by defendant and sexually assaulted on September 27, 2006. After a three-day hearing, Judge John Langan of the Family Part, Bergen County, rendered an oral decision in which he found that defendant had harassed plaintiff contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4(a), mandating the entry of the FRO.
On appeal defendant makes the following arguments for our consideration.
POINT I -- THE COMPLAINT THE PLAINTIFF FILED ALLEGES ACTS THAT FAIL TO SATISFY THE STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS FOR A FINDING [OF] DOMESTIC VIOLENCE UNDER THE PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT.
POINT II -- THE COURT'S FINDINGS WERE CLEARLY ERRONEOUS AND UNSUPPORTED BY THE FACTS ELICITED FROM THE WITNESSES['] TESTIMONY.
The scope of appellate review in a non-jury case is such that we will not disturb the factual findings or legal conclusions of a trial judge unless we are convinced that they are "so manifestly unsupported by or inconsistent with the competent, relevant and reasonably credible evidence as to offend the interests of justice." Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974). Moreover, we give deference to credibility determinations made by the trial judge in determining whether the factual findings and legal conclusions could reasonably be reached on the substantial credible evidence in the record. Furthermore, we give special deference to the determinations of the Family Part judges because of their special knowledge on issues of domestic relations. Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 412 (1998).
After careful review of the entire record in this case, we are satisfied that the judgment of the trial judge was based on findings of fact which were adequately supported by the testimony and other evidence and that the arguments made by defendant on appeal are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(A)(E). We affirm substantially for the reasons set forth by Judge Langan in his oral opinion of December 26, 2006.
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