April 27, 2010
IN THE MATTER OF THE SEIZURE OF WEAPONS OF GEORGE GLOVER
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Ocean County, Docket No. FO-15-0273-07.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted April 13, 2010
Before Judges Gilroy and Simonelli.
Defendant George Glover appeals from the February 3, 2009 Family Part order compelling the sale of his firearms and revoking his firearms purchaser identification card and any other licenses, permits or authorizations for use, possession or ownership of weapons/firearms. We affirm.
Prior to October 27, 2006, defendant's then second wife had obtained two temporary restraining orders (TRO) against him.*fn1 On each occasion, defendant's weapons were seized. On October 27, 2006, the wife obtained a TRO after a heated argument with defendant during which he raised "a kitchen chair over his head as if he was going to hit [her] with it." As a result, the police seized defendant's two handguns, a shotgun, two rifles and a BB gun. The wife subsequently dismissed the TRO in exchange for the entry of mutual civil restraints.
Defendant's wife testified at a hearing before Judge Blaney on the State's application to forfeit the weapons that she feared defendant and was concerned for her safety if the weapons were returned to him.*fn2 She also testified to prior incidents of domestic violence where defendant had knocked her down and attempted to choke her, threw her cell phone so violently that it stuck into the wall, threatened to "put a bullet in [her] head[,]" and "used the weapons in conversation, stating that he would kill [her]." Defendant denied his ex-wife's accusations and claimed to be the true victim in the October 2006 incident.
Judge Blaney found the testimony of the wife and another State witness credible and defendant's testimony not credible. Accordingly, the judge determined that defendant was unfit to possess or own weapons pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-21d(3) because he was a threat to the public in general and to his ex-wife in particular. The judge ordered the weapons to be forfeited, permitted defendant the option of selling them to a licensed firearms dealer, and revoked defendant's firearms privileges.
On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments:
POINT 1: TAPING A FAMILY ARGUMENT DOES NOT MAKE GEORGE GLOVER A DANGER TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE, AND THE COURT BELOW ERRED IN THIS FINDING.
POINT 2: THERE IS NO CREDIBLE EVIDENCE THAT GEORGE GLOVER PRESENTS A DANGER TO ANY PERSON OR TO THE PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY AND WELFARE.
POINT 3: CONTRARY TO THE HOLDINGS OF JWD and OSWORTH, THE COURT BELOW ERRED BY REVERSING THE BURDEN ONTO MR. GLOVER TO PROVE HE WAS QUALIFIED TO RECEIVE THE RETURN OF HIS PROPERTY.
POINT 4: MR. GLOVER SHOULD NOT BE DENIED HIS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO KEEP ARMS.
Our review of a trial judge's findings in a domestic violence weapons forfeiture hearing is limited to determining whether the judge's findings are "supported by adequate, substantial, credible evidence in the record." State v. Wahl, 365 N.J. Super. 356, 369 (App. Div. 2004) (citing Rova Farms Resort, Inc. c. Investors Ins. Co., 65 N.J. 474, 484 (1974)). We should not disturb a trial judge's findings "unless those findings would work an injustice." In re Return of weapons to J.W.D., 149 N.J. 108, 117 (1997). "'Because of the family court's special jurisdiction and expertise in family matters, [we] should accord deference to family court fact-finding.'" Wahl, supra, 365 N.J. Super. at 369 (quoting` Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 413 (1998)). Our deference is especially appropriate when the evidence is largely testimonial and involves questions of credibility. J.W.D., supra, 149 N.J. at 117.
Applying these standards, we conclude that defendant's arguments are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). There is substantial credible evidence in the record supporting the judge's decision.