On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. L-3709-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 9, 2011
Before Judges Yannotti and Kennedy.
Plaintiff William F. Kaetz appeals from an order entered by the Law Division on September 16, 2010, dismissing his complaint against defendants Judge Bonnie J. Mizdol, Jenifer Criso (Criso), Robert Jensen (Jensen), Clariza Colon (Colon), and Lauren Schlossareck (Schlossareck). We affirm.
On June 24, 2009, a Pennsylvania court issued an order requiring plaintiff to pay child support in the amount of $614.13 per month, plus $52 per month for arrears. On January 12, 2010, Bonnie J. Mizdol, Presiding Judge of the Family Part in the Bergen County Vicinage, entered an order registering the Pennsylvania order in New Jersey for enforcement purposes only, and setting arrears in the amount of $6,496.54, as of August 19, 2009.
On July 13, 2010, plaintiff filed pro se complaint in the Law Division, Bergen County, asserting claims under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 against Judge Mizdol; Criso, who was Judge Mizdol's law clerk; as well as Jensen, Colon, and Schlossareck, who are employees of the court in the Bergen County Vicinage (collectively, the Judiciary Defendants). Plaintiff also named Mitchell Steinhart (Steinhart), attorney for the Bergen County Board of Social Services, as a defendant.
In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that defendants violated his federal constitutional rights. He claimed that he had been "railroaded into the New Jersey Child Support System with all the ramifications that include but are not limited to, threats and harassment using the U.S. mail."
The Chief Justice transferred the matter to the Passaic County Vicinage. Plaintiff thereafter filed a motion in the trial court to return the matter to the Bergen County Vicinage. Plaintiff's motion was denied.
On August 17, 2010, the Judiciary Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them. These defendants argued that they were immune from liability for the actions that formed the basis of plaintiff's complaint. The motion was returnable at 9:00 a.m. on September 16, 2010, or as soon thereafter as counsel could be heard. On September 15, 2010, plaintiff was informed that oral argument on the Judiciary Defendants' motion would be held at 9:30 a.m. the following day.
The trial court considered the motion on the return date. The court noted that the motion was scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m. and plaintiff had not appeared at that time. The court stated that it waited "an additional period of time" because of traffic in the vicinity of the court house.
The court decided to proceed without plaintiff. The court determined that the Judiciary Defendants' motion should be granted because they were entitled to immunity. The court entered an order dated September 16, 2010, granting the Judiciary Defendants' motion to dismiss.
On October 5, 2010, plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration. He argued, among other things, that the New Jersey court lacked jurisdiction to enforce the "alleged" outof-state child support order. Plaintiff claimed that the State Defendants had acted "in complete absence of . . . jurisdiction[,] thereby denying plaintiff of certain "rights."
Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal with this court on November 30, 2010. However, the trial court proceedings in the case had not been completed when that notice of appeal was filed. Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration was still pending in the trial ...