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J.M.M v. A.P

April 12, 2012


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, Docket No. FV-07-002929-10.

Per curiam.



Submitted October 4, 2011

Before Judges Yannotti and Espinosa.

Following an altercation at defendant A.P.'s home on May 11, 2010, three complaints seeking restraining orders pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35, were filed. J.M.M. filed a complaint against A.P., the father of her child, alleging assault. T.P., who had a dating relationship with A.P. in the past, also filed a complaint against him, alleging assault. A.P. filed a complaint against T.P., alleging terroristic threats.*fn1 After a hearing, the trial court granted the requests of each of the parties for a final restraining order (FRO). Defendant A.P. appeals from the entry of the order granted to J.M.M. against him.*fn2 We affirm.

There was testimony regarding an unfortunate history among the parties, most of which need not be repeated here. However, some background information is required to provide a context for the evening of May 11, 2010. On Mother's Day, T.P. and J.M.M. learned that A.P. was having unprotected intercourse with each of them. T.P. and J.M.M. found this objectionable and chose to express their displeasure. On one occasion, J.M.M. took some of A.P.'s clothing, set it on fire in T.P.'s presence, and then posted a photograph of the occurence on Facebook.

T.P. testified that she accompanied J.M.M. to A.P.'s home to retrieve clothing belonging to J.M.M.'s child. A.P. appeared on the balcony and threw down a bag containing the clothing, which infuriated J.M.M. who then started ripping the mailboxes from the house. According to T.P., A.P. shouted from the balcony, "I have something for you all bitches[,]" and came downstairs. He opened the door and hit both J.M.M. and T.P. in the head with a steel baseball bat. He continued to strike T.P. on the leg and on her thigh, causing her to fall to the ground. T.P. stated she was injured and went to the hospital afterward to receive medical care. She denied allegations A.P. made against her but admitted her participation in the posting of the photograph on Facebook that depicted J.M.M. burning some of A.P.'s clothes.

Jasmine Irving, a friend of T.P.'s, remained in the car during the altercation. She observed the clothes thrown off the balcony, J.M.M. ripping the mailboxes off the building, and A.P. hitting J.M.M. and T.P. with the bat. She later accompanied them to the hospital where J.M.M.'s jaw had to be wired shut because it was broken.

J.M.M.'s testimony regarding the events of May 11 was consistent with that given by T.P. and Irving. She admitted going to A.P.'s home, getting angry when the clothes were thrown off the balcony, ripping the mailboxes off the building and throwing them at A.P. She testified that, while still on the balcony, A.P. said, "I got something for you all bitches." He then opened the door and swung the bat. She admitted grabbing his collar and punching him in the face. J.M.M. stated that A.P. hit her three times in the face, breaking her jaw in two places and creating a "knot on [her] head." J.M.M. testified that A.P. also hit T.P. with the bat, causing her to fall. She testified that she and T.P. never got inside the house; that they were all on the porch. J.M.M. admitted that A.P. tried to close the door and she kicked it back open, and that she threatened him.

J.M.M. also testified about a prior incident of domestic violence. She stated that on February 28, she and A.P. got into an argument when he took ten dollars from her wallet and announced he was going to buy "a bag of weed" instead of diapers for their daughter. She stated that A.P. told her to get out of his house and flung her approximately twenty feet from his front door down the steps to the curb.

Harold Wright, a friend of A.P.'s, testified that he arrived at A.P.'s residence the evening of May 11 to see T.P. and J.M.M. yelling and screaming at A.P.'s door. He stated A.P. opened the door and described the incident as follows:

And right when he opened the door [J.M.M.] was the first one up the steps and he proceeded, like, to back up. He backed into the hallway while swinging the bat. And [J.M.M.] ran into it.

Wright also testified that A.P. never left the house with the bat in his hand. Wright's sister, Christine Mann, gave a similar account. She stated that the two ladies were trying to get into the house and shouted that they wanted to beat A.P.'s mother up. Mann testified further that on Mother's Day, T.P. and J.M.M. had come to her house. ...

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