On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Municipal Appeal No. 010-02-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 2, 2009
Before Judges Axelrad and Espinosa.
Defendant appeals from her convictions for the disorderly persons offenses of simple assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a)(1), and obstruction of the administration of law, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1(a), following a trial de novo in the Law Division. We affirm.
The circumstances that gave rise to these convictions occurred when two detectives of the Bergen County Sheriff's Office arrived at defendant's residence in an effort to arrest her son, Courtney Fung, on three outstanding warrants.
Detective Brian Kelly provided the following account. He knocked on the door and displayed his identification badge. Defendant answered the door but did not open it immediately. She gestured to her son who was on the couch in the living room, and after he ran into another room, she opened the door. Detective Kelly's partner, Detective Chris Lewicki, advised that Fung had run into another room and so, Detective Kelly followed him. Defendant was belligerent, yelling and screaming, "You have [no] right to arrest my son." Fung resisted Detective Kelly's efforts to arrest him. Detective Kelly had to take Fung to the ground to handcuff him. Defendant jumped on his back and started punching and hitting him. Detective Lewicki removed her from Detective Kelly's back and assisted him with Fung's arrest.
Detective Kelly explained that he did not arrest defendant at the time because it would be unsafe to transport both her and her son in the same car when he and his partner had no additional support. They also wanted the assistance of the Teaneck Police Department for defendant's arrest. As a result, the detectives called their lieutenant from the car and the lieutenant later sent two other detectives with Teaneck police officers to arrest defendant. Detective Kelly denied telling Courtney Fung while they were in transit that he was going to arrest defendant because she complained about him.
Defendant testified that she cracked the door open when Detective Kelly knocked and announced, "Teaneck police." She stated that Detective Kelly then pushed the door open, punched her, causing her to hit the ground, and then charged through the house. Her son came into the living room and tried to calm the officer down. She stated that the officer was punching her son and she started crying and begging the officer, thinking her son was dying. She screamed at him to stop and said that she was "calling the mayor on [him]." Defendant stated that Detective Kelly was very nasty and said, "Call anyone you want, bitch."
Defendant's daughter, Felicia Fung, testified that she did not see her mother hit or punch Detective Kelly. Courtney Fung testified that Detective Kelly received a call while he was being transported to headquarters. The municipal court did not permit him to testify about any statement Detective Kelly made to him after the telephone call on hearsay grounds.
After the officers left, defendant called the Teaneck Police Department to complain about Detective Kelly's conduct.
She was arrested approximately two hours after the officers had arrested her son.
The municipal court found defendant guilty of simple assault and obstruction of the administration of law and sentenced her to fines totaling $500, appropriate penalties and costs. Defendant appealed and, following a de novo trial pursuant to Rule 3:23-8, the Law Division convicted defendant of both ...