On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey Chancery Division - Family Part, Union County, FV-20-1809-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued September 17, 2008
Before Judges Stern and Payne.
Defendant, N. M. (fictitiously, Ms. Martinez or Martinez), appeals from a final restraining order entered against her pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. On appeal, she presents the following arguments:
Point I - THE COURT DID NOT MAKE THE PROPER FINDINGS TO SUPPORT THE ENTRY OF A FINAL RESTRAINING ORDER PURSUANT TO SILVER V. SILVER, 387 N.J. Super. 112 (App. Div. 2006).
Point II - THE COURT DID NOT MAKE SUFFICIENT FINDINGS TO SUPPORT A FINDING OF ASSAULT BY THE DEFENDANT UPON THE PLAINTIFF PURSUANT TO N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.
The record discloses evidence that would support the conclusion that, prior to the incidents at issue, Martinez and plaintiff, G. C. (fictitiously, Mr. Coro or Coro), had been dating for approximately five years. From November 2006 to late January or early February 2007, they had lived together at Coro's residence in Pennsylvania. Martinez had then moved out, relocating in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
On March 28, 2007, while at work at a local Ikea store, Martinez received a series of harassing telephone calls from Coro. Upset as a result, Martinez left work early to return to her apartment. While she was there, Coro forced his way into the apartment and committed both assault and rape. In a subsequent hospital examination, Martinez was found to have sustained a tear on her upper lip; bruising to the left side of her face; swelling near her eye; numerous bruises and scratches on her arms, wrists and hands; a cut on her finger; bruises on both hips, her shoulders, and breasts; eight bites on her breasts; bruises to her inner thighs directly below her vagina; and a tear in her vaginal wall.
Following the attack, Coro left the apartment, taking with him Martinez's cell phone and two chains that she had been wearing. Realizing that her cell phone was missing, Martinez went to the building's parking lot and entered her car with the objective of pursuing Coro to regain the telephone. As she attempted to leave the lot, her car, a green or grey minivan, was hit head-on by Coro, who was driving into the lot in his truck. Martinez retaliated by causing an additional front-end collision between the two vehicles -- an act that she has admitted.
Thereafter, both vehicles proceeded onto North Broad Street, a thoroughfare on the border between Elizabeth and Hillside, New Jersey, with Coro's vehicle in front and Martinez following him. According to the testimony of mail carrier Kimberly Ashley, when at the corner of North Broad Street and Queen Court, Martinez rear-ended Coro's vehicle, causing damage. Nonetheless, both vehicles continued along North Broad Street, creating the impression that a hit-and-run accident had occurred. After witnessing the accident, Ashley stopped in a store on the corner of North Broad Street and King Street to purchase a drink and to check the lottery. Upon exiting the store and attempting to cross North Broad, she was nearly hit by Martinez, who had returned to the area, followed by Coro. Martinez proceeded to park her van, which was emitting steam and leaking fluid, and exited, returning to her apartment. Coro, likewise, parked.
At this point, Ashley called 9-1-1 in Hillside to report what had occurred. Hillside officers, and then Elizabeth police responded, finding Coro at the scene. However, upon investigation of the accident, the police determined that it arose from an incident of domestic violence. Martinez was interviewed, and Coro was arrested. Criminal charges of aggravated sexual assault and burglary were pending against Coro at the time of the domestic violence hearing.
Police testimony at the hearing confirmed that a number of witnesses had seen Martinez strike Coro's truck with her minivan. Additionally, a photograph confirmed damage to the rear of Coro's truck, although it was unclear whether that ...