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M.L.S. v. B.J.

May 5, 2010

M.L.S., PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
B.J., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cape May County, FV-05-000591-09.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 26, 2010

Before Judges Reisner and Chambers.

Defendant B.J. appeals from a June 24, 2009 final restraining order (FRO) entered based on a complaint filed by plaintiff M.L.S. We affirm.

I.

On June 9, 2009, plaintiff applied for and obtained temporary restraints under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. Her complaint alleged that defendant was harassing her by parking in front of her house late at night and playing loud music. She also alleged that he was stalking her by routinely driving past her house, calling her repeatedly, and spying on her. She asserted that the parties "broke up over 2 years ago" and plaintiff had told defendant "repeatedly that she does not want him to call her or come to her property."

The following testimony was presented at the hearing on the FRO application, at which plaintiff appeared pro se and defendant was represented by counsel. According to plaintiff, the parties had a previous dating relationship, which had ended. She testified that at 10:30 p.m. on June 8, 2009, she heard "music that was so loud it scared me . . . enough to make me jump out of my chair." Looking out her window, she realized defendant was sitting in his car in front of her house, playing music "extremely loud." He was playing a song that "had something to do with our relationship in the past." When plaintiff looked out the window, defendant "sped away" but "approximately 10 minutes later, he was back doing it again." She testified that defendant had "done this in the past."

According to plaintiff, the parties lived in the same neighborhood, and defendant would "repeatedly" stop by her house although she had "asked him not to." She testified that if she tried to ignore him he would make "harassing phone calls." Defendant told her that he had "taken notice of who's in my house by looking through the windows . . . to see who was there." Plaintiff testified that she found defendant's conduct frightening and annoying, and that she had previously asked him to stop it:

When he does it, . . . it's scary. I don't think it's rational behavior for him to be sitting in front of my home bothering me. . . . I want that to stop. I've had the police talk to him on . . . numerous occasions just asking him to stop this behavior. . . . All I want him to do is just to accept the fact that we are over. I do not want to speak to him anymore. . . . I don't want him keeping an eye on my home or trying to find out who has been in my driveway.

It scares me. It's very annoying.

On cross-examination, plaintiff admitted that she and defendant had previously lived together at her house, although she contended their romantic relationship had ended a year before the hearing. She admitted calling him on the phone from time to time in the past year. She admitted encountering defendant at a restaurant on April 10, 2009, and acknowledging him as he walked past her. However, she denied seeing defendant with a new girlfriend there or filing the domestic violence complaint as retaliation for his allegedly ignoring her. She agreed with defense counsel that defendant had never hit her.

Defendant's current girlfriend testified that in April 2009, she and defendant met at a restaurant where she worked as a server. As the girlfriend was sitting at a table counting her tips, defendant told her that plaintiff was in the restaurant. Plaintiff sat talking with "two gentlemen." The girlfriend noticed that plaintiff appeared to turn around and look at her several ...


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