On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division-Family Part, Burlington County, Docket No. FV-03-1221-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Cuff and Payne.
This is a domestic violence matter. Defendant appeals from a final restraining order entered pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (the Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35, which bars defendant from having any contact with plaintiff and her current boyfriend. Defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence to allow the trial judge to find by a preponderance of the evidence that he committed an act of domestic violence. He also contends that the trial judge should not have permitted testimony of acts following the filing of the complaint. We affirm.
In her cross-appeal, plaintiff contends the trial judge should have entered an order enjoining defendant from filing any court complaints in any jurisdiction without prior permission of the court. She also argues that the trial judge should have granted reasonable attorney's fees.
Plaintiff and defendant had a prior dating relationship. On February 17, 2009, plaintiff filed a complaint in support of her application for a temporary restraining order in which she alleged that defendant committed an act of criminal mischief when he threw a large stone through a window in her house. She alleged that defendant's action broke the glass and damaged the frame on a window of her home. She asserted the act occurred shortly before 11 p.m. on February 16.
A temporary domestic violence restraining order issued on February 17, 2009. Plaintiff's application for a final restraining order was tried on April 6, 2009. At that time, plaintiff testified that in the early morning hours of February 16, 2009, someone banged on her front door and rang the door bell. She went downstairs and discovered spray paint on the garage, front door and a glass door. She called the police.
That evening, at approximately 10:50 p.m., plaintiff was upstairs with her boyfriend. They heard glass shatter and the boyfriend ran downstairs. He saw the living room window broken and a brick or stone in the room. The boyfriend ran outside and saw a man walking down the street away from plaintiff's home. The boyfriend followed the man but he started to run. The man got into a black BMW and sped off. The boyfriend, however, was able to see the license plate, memorized the license number and immediately recorded the number, GCJ7424, on a napkin when he returned to the house. He described the man as a 5'6" black man with a small build.
As the boyfriend pursued the man, plaintiff called the police. She reported the current incident and her observation of the shattered window and the brick or stone in her living room. When the boyfriend returned to the house, plaintiff relayed the information about the car and license plate from him to the police.
At trial, plaintiff also related a third incident that occurred on February 23, 2009, over the objection of defendant.
She testified that at 4 or 5 a.m., she heard the sound of shattering glass and discovered her other living room window shattered, spray paint on the side of her house, and more paint on her garage. Plaintiff called the police. Officer Howard of the Willingboro police testified that defendant was apprehended soon thereafter, driving a black BMW approximately two miles from plaintiff's home.
Plaintiff also testified that defendant and she have had a tumultuous relationship since March 2007, when plaintiff terminated their romantic relationship. She described a series of complaints, civil and criminal, filed by defendant against her in various forums and in several states. She also had sought and dismissed an ...