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Linda B. Jonas v. Edwin R. Jonas


December 29, 2011


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Camden County, Docket No. FM-04-259-89.

Per curiam.


Argued December 12, 2011

Before Judges Grall and Skillman.

Defendant Edwin R. Jonas, III and plaintiff Linda B. Jonas were divorced in 1988. Defendant appeals from an order of September 17, 2010 denying his motion to vacate post-judgment orders of the Family Part entered in 1996, 1999 and 2006. We affirm.

Since the entry of the judgment of divorce, this court has considered several appeals involving post-judgment orders in this matrimonial case. In a decision addressing consolidated appeals, A-3734-95 and A-1950-96, issued on December 19, 1997, we set forth the incidents of defendant's non-compliance with court-ordered obligations that led the late Judge Page to impose measures to ensure payment of his support obligations, including warrants for defendant's arrest, authorization of plaintiff to sell defendant's real property, appointment of plaintiff as receiver of a 7-11 store defendant owned, and establishment of a constructive trust. Slip op. at 2-12. We rejected defendant's challenges to those orders, and based on his failure to comply with prior orders, we approved the judge's denial of defendant's requests for relief relevant to the constructive trust - an accounting and the appointment of an "'independent trustee.'" Id. at 26-27. We further noted that if defendant were to return to the jurisdiction and comply with the court's orders, the order of January 12, 1996, which requires plaintiff to maintain records of the trust, gives defendant "the means to hold the plaintiff accountable" for any diversion. Id. at 27.

In 2006, Judge Page addressed a motion plaintiff filed to enforce defendant's obligations to pay alimony and medical expenses for their children. Defendant opposed that motion and filed a cross-motion, again seeking an accounting of the constructive trust and appointment of an independent trustee. Applying the fugitive disentitlement doctrine, the judge dismissed defendant's cross-motion without prejudice to future consideration of the merits in the event defendant were to personally appear and post a surety bond to cover all outstanding judgments. In a decision on defendant's appeal, A-5241-05, issued on January 30, 2008, this court approved the judge's application of the fugitive disentitlement doctrine as "proper and necessary" and dismissed the appeal. Slip op. at 4-6.

Despite the clarity of this court's 1997 decision, which conditions defendant's right to seek an accounting and appointment of an independent trustee on compliance with court orders, and the 2008 decision approving application of the fugitive disentitlement doctrine, defendant has not posted bond in the judgment amount, personally appeared in court or even filed a certification signed by him. Instead, he filed identical, consecutive motions to vacate orders entered prior to 2008 and compel an accounting and appointment of an independent trustee. Defendant's only argument respecting his entitlement to be heard on the motions was his attorney's representation that he could not locate an arrest warrant.

Because defendant failed to meet the conditions specified by Judge Page and affirmed by this court on appeal, we affirm the trial court's order denying relief. Given the posture of the case, defendant's claims of error lack sufficient merit to warrant discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).



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