March 4, 2010
G. C. V., PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
M. P., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FV-04-1875-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 9, 2010
Before Judges Fuentes and Gilroy.
Defendant M. P. appeals from a final restraining order entered by the Family Part pursuant to a complaint filed by plaintiff G. C. V. under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25:17 to -33. Although the legal position set forth in this appeal is not stated in conformance with the requirements of Rule 2:6-2, we infer*fn1 the thrust of defendant's argument to be predicated upon a lack of evidence supporting the trial court's finding that he committed an act of domestic violence against plaintiff. We reject this argument and affirm.
At all times relevant to this appeal, the parties resided together as domestic partners. On December 10, 2008, defendant informed plaintiff of his plan to go on vacation to Florida from December 18 to December 25, 2008. This prompted an argument between the parties that soon escalated into a physical altercation. As a result, the parties decided to sleep in separate rooms that night, plaintiff in the master bedroom and defendant in the guest bedroom.
The following day, defendant entered the master bedroom with defendant's permission in order to obtain fresh clothes. This immediately prompted a second altercation, with plaintiff allegedly choking defendant and defendant allegedly biting plaintiff on the cheek. Defendant suffered a severe laceration to one of his hands, requiring an emergency room visit to suture his wound.
On that same day, December 11, 2008, defendant filed a domestic violence complaint against plaintiff in Camden County. On December 17, 2008, plaintiff filed a cross-complaint against defendant in Mercer County. The Mercer County court transferred the matter to Camden County, and the complaints were consolidated and tried over a two-day period before Judge Famular.
In a memorandum of opinion dated February 23, 2009, Judge Famular found that both parties had committed acts of domestic violence against each other. With respect to defendant, the court found that he committed the domestic violence act of criminal mischief by damaging plaintiff's personal property. As to plaintiff, Judge Famular found he had assaulted defendant by using unwarranted, unnecessary force in restraining and repelling defendant's aggressive acts. Both parties were found to have committed simple assault upon the other while wrestling in the hallway.
Judge Famular concluded her analysis as follows:
The [c]court finds each of them has proven by a preponderance of the evidence that certain acts of assault were committed against the other. Certain acts of criminal mischief occurred at the hand of [defendant] and each of the gentlemen engaged in conduct that would be deemed combative in nature. It is clear to the [c]court that the two of them should be separated by mutual Final Restraining Orders.
Against these facts, and mindful of our standard of review, Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 412 (1998), we are satisfied that defendant's argument lacks sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). The evidence presented at trial amply supports the court's findings that both parties here engaged in conduct that constitutes domestic violence within the meaning of N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19.