On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FV-07-0376-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges C.S. Fisher and C.L. Miniman.
Plaintiff Benjamin B. Taylor appeals from a July 27, 2007, order denying his application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against defendant Sandra Azara-Taylor. On that date, Benjamin*fn1 appeared in the Family Part seeking the entry of a TRO with respect to an incident that occurred on July 19, 2007. The complaint and proposed TRO prepared by the Family Part staff from information supplied by Benjamin alleges that Sandra had been ordered not to have any direct contact with Benjamin.*fn2 It then alleged the following act of domestic violence on July 19, 2007, at 7:55 p.m.:
THE 7 YR OLD CHILD WAS GIVEN A CELL PHONE FOR EXPLICIT PURPOSE OF COMMUNICATIONS WITH FAMILY MEMBERS[.] ON 7/19/97 [BENJAMIN]
CALLED THE CHILD[.] [SANDRA] INTERCEPTED THE CALL. [SANDRA] WAS [IN A] TIRADE[.]
SHE HARASSED [BENJAMIN] SPEAKING TO HIM [IN] A HIGHLY ALARMING & CONTENTIOUS MANNER. SHE YELLED OBS[C]ENITIES AND IN BETWEEN THE OBS[C]ENITIES THERE WERE THREATS, SPECIFICALLY WARNING [BENJAMIN] THAT IF HE OPPOSED HER WISHES THAT SHE WOULD DO ANYTHING OR WHATEVER NECESSARY, INFERRING THAT SHE WAS GOING TO MAKE TROUBLE FOR [BENJAMIN] WITHOUT MERIT. [SANDRA] THREATEN[E]D TO HAVE [BENJAMIN] FALSELY ARRESTED. ON MAY 10 OF 2006 [SANDRA] SPECIFICALLY STATED TO [BENMAJIN]
"DO WHAT . . . I SAY OR ELSE I'LL TAKE THE GIRLS FROM YOU[.]" PREVIOUSLY [SANDRA] EMBEL[L]ISHED STORIES RESULTING IN [BENJAMIN] BEING ARRESTED. [SANDRA] IS ATTEMPTING TO CONTROL [BENJAMIN] AND MANIPULATE THE SYSTEM IN ORDER TO SEPARATE [BENJAMIN] FROM THE CHILDREN.
The complaint indicated that there were prior Family Part matters: one support matter under Docket No. FD-07-5474-06, one dissolution under Docket No. FM-07-1453-07, and two domestic violence matters under Docket Nos. FV-07-3441-06 and FV-07-2095-07.*fn3 The complaint also alleged that a complaint had been made to the Maplewood Police Department on July 19, 2007.*fn4
When he appeared before the Family Part judge for a determination respecting the issuance of a TRO, the judge observed that an FRO had been entered against Benjamin in favor of Sandra. He acknowledged this was so and the judge asked what in addition to the complaint he wished to tell her. As he began to answer, she cut him off and refused to listen to anything other than the events of July 19, 2007, even though the complaint alleged a prior history of domestic violence. The judge then asked where Benjamin had been for eight days and he replied that he had come to court two days before but he wanted to bring two witnesses. The judge again cut him off.
The judge asked if he had any subsequent contact with Sandra and Benjamin replied that he tried not to do so but Sandra lived within four blocks of him. The judge cut him off again and stated she was not going back to the prior FROs and he should focus on July 19. He replied that he was trying to do so but it was connected to other things Sandra did over a period of time.
Benjamin then explained that since the entry of the FRO in favor of Sandra, she would speak with him when they exchanged the children for visitation, although he would not speak with her. Benjamin testified that Sandra would exchange the children and then file a report claiming that Benjamin engaged her in some type of conversation or altercation, none of which was true. Benjamin stated that he always brought a third party with him for the exchange of the children for his own protection. The judge asked if Sandra was rude or unpleasant and Benjamin agreed. Generally, Benjamin averred that Sandra gave "directives" or stated "what was going to happen." However, Benjamin testified that the call on July 19 was ...