On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County, Municipal Appeal No. 50-06.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Grall and LeWinn.
Defendant appeals from the order of the Law Division entered on September 9, 2008, on de novo review, finding her guilty of resisting arrest in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(a)(1). We affirm.
On November 1, 2005, Lindenwold Police Officer Dan LaFontaine, while on duty, observed defendant's vehicle make a left turn without stopping at a stop sign. LaFontaine "pulled behind her in [his] patrol vehicle and turned [his] lights on." Defendant pulled her car into a parking lot with LaFontaine behind her. He asked defendant for her credentials and "[a]t that time she started arguing with [him], saying that there was no stop sign . . . ." The officer testified that "[t]he whole time when she gave [him] her credentials she was screaming and yelling at [him]."
The officer returned to his patrol vehicle and started writing out summonses. Defendant continued "screaming at [him] stating that [he] only pulled her over because . . . [he] recognized her car from a previous incident . . . ." As the officer handed the summonses to defendant, "she stated she wanted to speak to a supervisor." Officer LaFontaine called Sergeant Eutsler, who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter. Defendant was still "screaming and yelling" when "Sergeant Eutsler went over and talked to her."
Eutsler testified that he spoke to defendant upon arriving at the scene and "tried to explain to her that she had to tell [him] what had happened." Defendant "started yelling, arguing," saying that she wanted to "sign a complaint." Eutsler testified that defendant would not calm down, she was "loud, just obnoxious and yelling the whole time. She finally said, I didn't go through the stop sign." Eutsler told her, "if this is all about a motor vehicle stop, plead not guilty, go to court, explain it in front of the judge and debate it there."
Defendant kept "demanding" that she wanted to sign a complaint, but she "wouldn't give any details as to anything that happened," and Eutsler tried to explain to her what was happening. When defendant would not calm down, Eutsler testified that he told her, "I strongly suggest you calm down or I'm going to end up locking you up." Defendant "still wouldn't calm down." Eutsler again asked her to calm down, and defendant started to walk away.
Defendant entered her car and continued "yelling from inside the car that . . . she doesn't care, she can do whatever she wants at this point." Eutsler said, "that's it, enough." As he walked towards her car, defendant put the car into reverse. LaFontaine's police vehicle was parked immediately behind defendant's car, and Eutsler opened the door of her car, "reach[ed] across [and] put it into park." He again told defendant to get out of the car. When she refused, he had to "physically remove her from the car." Defendant then refused to get into the police car. Eutsler "ask[ed] her several times to get in the police car. As [he went] to put her in the police car she actually got down onto the seat, s[a]t back and kick[ed] [him] in the chest."
Defendant testified that LaFontaine pulled his vehicle behind her but "never flashed anything, no sirens, no nothing." LaFontaine told defendant that she had run a stop sign, and she denied it. She stated that, when asked, she went to her car and retrieved her credentials and gave them to LaFontaine who was sitting in his police vehicle. Defendant informed LaFontaine that she wanted another officer to be called to the scene because she felt "as though he was harassing [her], because when [she] gave him [her] information [she] recognized him as being the office[r] who [she] had a prior incident with several months back . . . ."
When LaFontaine tried to give her the summonses, defendant stated that she did not want to speak to him and "had nothing to say to him and that he could put the tickets inside the car[,]" which he did. Defendant stated that "[n]o incident happened" in the interval until Eutsler arrived.
Defendant testified that she was "cooperative" while waiting for Eutsler to arrive. She denied "disput[ing] the tickets with him[.]" Defendant described her interaction as "just like two people w[ere] having a conversation."
Defendant spoke to Eutsler about her desire to file a complaint and Eutsler told her he could "arrest [her] right here, right now for being disorderly." Defendant asked Eutsler "how was [she] being disorderly." Eutsler told her that she "could be arrested for the patrons [in the nearby store] wondering what's going on. You're creating a scene ...