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State v. Ong


November 1, 2010


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Municipal Appeal No. 29-08.

Per curiam.


Submitted September 29, 2010

Before Judges Kestin and Coburn.

Defendant, Johanna Ong, appeals from a judgment convicting her of harassment, a petty disorderly persons offense, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4a.*fn1 The judgment was entered in the Law Division, on appeal de novo on the record, R. 3:23-8(a), from the Jersey City Municipal Court.

The sentence was "suspended for one year on the condition that defendant complete an anger management course[.]" The court also ordered payment of $50 and $75 assessments to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board and the Safe Neighborhoods Fund, respectively. On our temporary remand while this appeal was pending, following upon the State's motion, the Law Division modified the terms of defendant's probation to include the requirement in the municipal court's judgment that defendant have no contact with the victim and his family members.

In this appeal, defendant raises two arguments. She contends that she is innocent of the perjured claimed of Harassment filed by her neighbor . . . with inconsistency of the date, time and place claimed which was also fabricated by [the victim] together with his witness . . . and an added falsified claimed by the prosecutor . . . in his brief." [sic] Defendant also argues that she was tried in the Jersey City Municipal Court without [her] eye-witness of the incident.

The EMS which supposedly subpoena in the court was not given a chance to testify on the basic facts where the rendered service done to [the victim]. [sic]

The harassment charge was the culmination of difficulties between two next door neighbors, defendant and the victim. The matter was tried twice in the Jersey City Municipal Court; the first trial produced a defective verbatim record, and a second trial was held, with the witnesses and other evidence both the State and defendant chose to introduce. The charge was then sustained and, when defendant availed herself of her right to appeal, the matter proceeded to the Law Division for a trial de novo based on the record made in the municipal court, as provided in Rule 3:23-8(a).

The facts found by Judge DePascale in the Law Division are well supported in the record. We are obliged to defer to the findings and factual conclusions of a trial court that are based upon substantial, credible evidence. See State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 470-72 (1999); State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146, 160-62 (1964). "[O]ur appellate function is a limited one: we do not disturb the factual findings and legal conclusions of the trial judge unless we are convinced that they are so manifestly unsupported by or inconsistent with the competent, relevant and reasonably credible evidence as to offend the interests of justice." Fagliarone v. Township of North Bergen, 78 N.J. Super. 154, 155 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 40 N.J. 221 (1963).

Employing this principle of deference with regard to the findings of fact, we affirm for the reasons well expressed in Judge DePascale's oral opinion, which flowed logically from the findings made. We discern no sufficient merit in defendant's arguments to warrant further discussion in a written opinion.

R. 2:11-3(e)(2).


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