On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Hudson County, Docket No. FV-09-1380-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes, Gilroy and Simonelli.
Defendant E.N. appeals from the April 17, 2009 Family Part order denying his motion to vacate a final restraining order entered on February 14, 2006 (the FRO) and to recuse the trial judge. We affirm.
Plaintiff and defendant had a romantic relationship for approximately one and one-half years. During that time, defendant was a police officer with the Guttenberg Police Department, and was married to another woman. Throughout defendant's relationship with plaintiff, defendant engaged in numerous acts of domestic violence, including threats upon plaintiff's life, physical violence, harassment, and stalking. Plaintiff's twelve-year-old daughter, other members of plaintiff's family, and her employer witnessed some of these acts.
In August 2005, plaintiff obtained a temporary restraining (TRO) against defendant, which she dismissed on September 7, 2005, believing that defendant would leave her alone. However, after an incident on October 20, 2005, plaintiff obtained another TRO.
After a trial on February 14, 2006, the trial judge concluded that defendant had committed acts of domestic violence against plaintiff and entered the FRO. As a result, defendant was barred from possessing a firearm and lost his job as a police officer.
Defendant appealed. We affirmed, R.P. v. E.N., No. A-3817-05T1 (App. Div. January 11, 2007), and our Supreme Court denied certification, R.P. v. E.N., 190 N.J. 393 (2007). In our opinion, we noted the numerous acts of domestic violence committed by defendant and concluded that the record "strongly supports a finding that defendant subjected [plaintiff] to a series of assaults, stalking, and harassment[,]" and that the credible testimony of [plaintiff] and her daughter established a long history of blatant and serious domestic violence. Defendant engaged in a course of conduct that included stalking, physical and psychological abuse, misuse of his status as a police officer, and threats to kill [plaintiff]. He also engaged in harassing phone calls after [plaintiff] withdrew her first [TRO] and before the October 20 incident.
Our conclusion is strengthened by our reading of the record, which supports [the trial judge's] finding that defendant was not a credible witness. Defendant's attempts to explain what he admitted were photographs of [plaintiff's] injuries lack the ring of truth even on a cold record.
His explanation of the incident in which he allegedly accidentally pulled a door off its hinges at [plaintiff's] work place is equally incredible. Further, his testimony is fraught with contradictions as he first portrayed his relationship with [plaintiff] as harmonious, then admitted that they fought constantly, and finally explained that [plaintiff], weighing ninety-eight pounds, was responsible for all of their violent encounters and all of her injuries. [R.P. v. E.N., supra, slip op. at 11-12, 14-15.]
On February 16, 2009, defendant filed a motion pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29d to vacate the FRO, arguing that he had met the applicable factors in Carfagno v. Carfagno, 288 N.J. Super. 424 (Ch. Div. 1995). As to factor number 2 (the victim's fear of defendant), defendant stated that he and plaintiff had no contact for over three years. As to factor number 11 (any other factors the court may deem relevant), defendant claimed that he suffered financial difficulty as a result of losing his job, and that he planned to return to a law enforcement position. Defendant also contended that the original prosecution was biased, tainted, and violative of his Fourteenth Amendment*fn1 due process rights. He claimed that a conspiracy existed ...