On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County, Docket No. FV-20-000931-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued November 30, 2010 - Decided Before Judges Skillman and Espinosa.
Defendant appeals from a final domestic violence restraining order entered on December 15, 2009. We reverse.
Defendant and plaintiff had a dating relationship that ended around the middle of November 2009. The incident in which the trial court found defendant committed an act of domestic violence occurred approximately three weeks later, on December 6, 2009.
On that date, defendant's new girlfriend, Shannon Green, went shopping with her mother at the Foodtown grocery store in Springfield. Plaintiff worked at that same store. While Green was shopping, plaintiff accosted her in an aisle of the store and said that she wanted to know "what was going on" between defendant and Green. Plaintiff told Green that she had heard "you were together with [defendant]" and that Green "had a lot of nerve or gall coming in here to rub it in [plaintiff's] face." Green described plaintiff's tone of voice during this encounter as "vociferous," "angry," and "accusatory."
While plaintiff was directing these comments at Green, Green text-messaged defendant and called him on his cell phone to inform him about what was occurring. Green told defendant she was worried that her encounter with plaintiff was "going to get violent, and she's going to hit me." Green said that because of plaintiff's demeanor, she "felt very threatened."
When defendant received this message from Green, he was in his car only three minutes away from the Foodtown grocery store. Defendant drove quickly to the store and ran inside. Before defendant's arrival, the encounter between plaintiff and Green had ended, the two women had hugged, and Green had left the store.
Defendant went to the deli department where plaintiff worked and started screaming at her. According to plaintiff, defendant said:
[Y]ou're not going to keep doing this shit. You're going to stop this shit. You're going to stop harassing us[.]
Plaintiff then walked back to the manager's office to tell him what was occurring, and defendant followed her. According to plaintiff, defendant had a conversation with her manager, during which defendant "was cursing, and saying I want something done about this girl. She's not going to keep doing this."
Based on this evidence, the trial court found that defendant had committed an act of domestic violence upon plaintiff, specifically harassment, and entered the final domestic violence restraining order from which this appeal has been taken.*fn1
The predicate act of domestic violence that the trial court found defendant had committed was harassment, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4. See N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(a)(13). ...