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Spector & Ehrenworth, P.C. v. Chatterton

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


November 20, 2009

SPECTOR & EHRENWORTH, P.C., A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
KATHY S. CHATTERTON, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Bergen County, DC-23776-08.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 5, 2009

Before Judges Baxter and Alvarez.

Plaintiff Spector & Ehrenworth, P.C. obtained a judgment totaling $4126.07 on November 10, 2008 against defendant Kathy S. Chatterton for unpaid legal fees. Plaintiff subsequently filed a verified petition for discovery pursuant to Rule 6:7-2(a) on December 17, 2008, specifically seeking to compel defendant to testify at a deposition. The petition was denied, and an application for reconsideration was also denied on February 13, 2009. We affirm.

Judge Rosa set forth his findings of fact and conclusions of law on March 25, 2009, after plaintiff filed his notice of appeal, in accordance with Rule 2:5-1(b). Judge Rosa commenced by noting that plaintiff's verified petition was not signed. The crucial fact that informed his decision, however, was that plaintiff's petition seeking to depose defendant and to compel the production of all her financial records did not set forth any "good cause" for the request as required by Rule 6:7-2(a). Instead, the petition merely recited the amount of the judgment, date of entry, and the fact it was unsatisfied. The court suggested that good cause might have been established if plaintiff had unsuccessfully sought to compel defendant to complete an information subpoena, pursuant to Rule 6:7-2(b), prior to requesting defendant's attendance at a deposition, a more costly and intrusive process. The court reiterated its reasons for denying both the initial request and the motion for reconsideration.

The question we must consider is whether the judge correctly exercised his discretion in declining to order discovery. Discovery decisions are within the court's ambit of discretionary decision-making, and therefore subject to an abuse of discretion standard of review. See Bender v. Adelson, 187 N.J. 411, 428 (2006). We defer to the trial court's determination unless its discretion has been misapplied. Terrell v. Schweitzer-Mauduit, 352 N.J. Super. 109, 115 (App. Div. 2002). So long as there has been no abuse of discretion or mistake of law, we will affirm. Spinks v. Twp. of Clifton, 402 N.J. Super. 454, 459 (App. Div. 2008).

As the trial court stated, the court rules provide that "upon good cause shown," a court may "requir[e] any person who may possess information concerning property of the judgment debtor to appear . . . ." R. 6:7-2(a). The court's finding that good cause is required is drawn directly from the language of the rule. We see no cause at all recited in plaintiff's demand that a deposition be ordered. The trial court's determination was not an abuse of discretion. We therefore affirm without further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).

Affirmed.

20091120

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