May 24, 2010
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Bergen County, Docket No. FV-02-002375-09.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: April 21, 2010
Before Judges Stern and Sabatino.
Defendant husband appeals from a Final Restraining Order (FRO) entered on June 18, 2009. The order prevented contact with plaintiff, his wife, and limited contact with his children to prescribed parenting time.
Judge William R. DeLorenzo conducted an evidentiary hearing at which both parties testified. In a written opinion he found that defendant was incredible and that, among other things, he placed a taping device outside her bedroom to record conversations and that plaintiff found the device; defendant took handsets off the telephone so plaintiff could not use it, and defendant denied grabbing and twisting her ear despite the existence of photographs which showed plaintiff's ear to be swollen. Plaintiff also testified there were prior acts of domestic violence she did not report.
The judge concluded that defendant committed acts of harassment, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4, and stalking, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10. Finally, he found "that based on the predicate events coupled with the history... an FRO is necessary" to protect plaintiff from further abuse.
On this appeal defendant argues:
POINT I: THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR BY FINDING THAT THE DEFENDANT COMMITTED HARRASSMENT AGAINST THE PLAINTIFF SO AS TO NECESSITATE THE ENTRY OF A FINAL RESTRAINING ORDER.
POINT II: THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY FINDING THAT THE DEFENDANT STALKED THE PLAINTIFF SO AS TO NECESSITATE THE ENTRY OF A FINAL RESTRAINING ORDER.
POINT III: BASED ON THE FACTS PRESENTED AT TRIAL, THE PLAINTIFF DID NOT PROVE THAT SHE WAS IN NEED OF THE PROTECTION OF A FINAL RESTRAINING ORDER.
A trial court's findings "are binding on appeal" in a domestic violence case like this "when supported by adequate, substantial, credible evidence." Cesare v. Cesare, 154 N.J. 394, 411-12 (1998). As the record is sufficient to support the findings, we affirm the FRO substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge DeLorenzo. See also State v. Gandhi, 201 N.J. 161, 183-88 (2010); H.E.S. v. J.C.S., 175 N.J. 309, 325-31 (2003); State v. Hoffman, 149 N.J. 564, 576-86 (1997).
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