June 27, 2008
DORIS M. LAZENBY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
ROBERT W. DOKES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Burlington County, FV-03-000036-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted June 17, 2008
Before Judges Stern and Coburn.
Defendant, Robert W. Dokes, appeals from a final restraining order issued pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. We affirm.
The parties appeared pro se, were sworn and testified that they had been living as if they were husband and wife for many years. When the judge asked defendant if he had any objection to the entry of a final restraining order, he said, "No."
Nonetheless, the judge took testimony from the plaintiff indicating that, among other things, defendant had grabbed her by the neck on one occasion and threatened to kill her on at least one other occasion. Defendant admitted the neck incident but denied the threat to kill. Although the proceeding was quite informal, the record clearly revealed a basis for a restraining order. We note that defendant failed to include a copy of plaintiff's complaint in the record and failed to set forth the evidence on which the restraining order was based.
Defendant complains that the judge limited his ability to give testimony, but the record does not support that claim. He also asserts that the record shows that he "was not of sound mind to proceed with the hearing." But there is no evidence of that. Although the judge might have been more explicit with respect to his findings, he clearly and expressly found plaintiff to be more credible, and one may infer from the record that the predicate acts were simple assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a), and harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4. Given the history of the parties' relationship, issuance of a final restraining was quite appropriate.
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