October 10, 2012
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Middlesex County, Docket No. FM-12-0488-95.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted August 27, 2012 -
Before Judges Alvarez and Nugent.
Defendant G.C. appeals the October 21, 2011 denial of his application for reconsideration of a prior order denying his motion to vacate an April 24, 2000 post-judgment, no-contact order entered with defendant's consent. The order was entered in the matrimonial FM docket, not pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (the Act), N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. Defendant is self-represented. Plaintiff C.C. did not respond to the appeal. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
Defendant, who certifies that he has lived in Indiana since the parties' divorce in 1995, asserts that the no-contact order is a restraint upon his "constitutional freedoms" and "civil liberties," and that it was a "fabricated, fraudulent agreement." He also asserts the Mercer County Family Part judge who signed the consent order in 2000 coerced him into the arrangement. Defendant further states the judge "knowingly withheld" from the Middlesex County Family Part judges - Middlesex being the county where the divorce decree and post-judgment proceedings have been litigated - that the domestic violence proceeding initiated by plaintiff in Mercer County under the Act was dismissed.*fn1
Moreover, defendant claims that the Mercer County judge's mistaken notation of the FM docket number on the consent order, which was off by one digit, made it difficult for him to obtain the relevant paperwork. He contends that the judge deliberately committed the error "to prevent [him] from filing an appeal or motion." Plaintiff vigorously objected both to defendant's initial application for dissolution of the no-contact order and the application for reconsideration which followed.
In denying the motion for reconsideration, the judge reiterated that defendant neither presented any compelling reason to vacate the no-contact agreement nor any change in circumstances since its entry which warranted modification. The court noted plaintiff's objection, but started the analysis from the fact that the order was not a restraining order issued under the Act, and therefore the standard for modification required a change of circumstances. Consideration of the eleven factors enumerated in Carfagno v. Carfagno, 288 N.J. Super. 424, 435-42 (Ch. Div. 1995), for modification of restraining orders under the Act, was unnecessary. Additionally, the no-contact order was entered under the FM docket, relieving defendant from some of the negative collateral consequences of a restraining order, such as inclusion of his name in a domestic violence registry. See N.J.S.A. 2C:25-34. Because the judge did not conclude the earlier decision was "based on plainly incorrect reasoning" or that he originally "failed to consider evidence[,]" he denied reconsideration.
Defendant asserts as points of error for our consideration:
The Trial Court committed reversible errors on August 19, 2011 and October 21, 2011 by not applying the Laws to the fact that the trial court violated the defendant's federal and state constitutional rights to due process of law, a fair trial, and effective counsel on April 24, 2000.
Point 2 This no contact order has always been null and void because the trial court on April 24, 2000, failed to show on record all the compelling facts necessary to give the court legal jurisdiction over the defendant, a law abiding citizen of the State of Indiana. Point 3 The trial court committed reversible error by not applying the law to the fact that the judge, on April 24, 2000, abused her judicial powers by putting the defendant under pressure and duress in order to get him to sign the no contact order.
Point 4 The Trial Court Committed harmful errors on August 19, 2011 by allowing the plaintiff to violate the rules of the court relevant to filing and serving response correspondence. Point 5 The trial court committed reversible errors by violating the defendant's federal and state constitutional rights to due process of law and fair trial on August 19, 2011. Point 6 The court committed harmful error by wrongfully accusing defendant of having several existing restraining orders in New York on August 19, 2011.
Point 7 The Trial Court committed reversible error by falsely claiming defendant's child and ex-wife have fear of defendant.
The Trial Court erred on August 19, 2011 and October 21, 2011 by refusing to apply the rules of the court to this case for getting this "no contact" order vacated which is clarified in N.J. Court Rule 4:50-1(C) (D) (E).
The Family Part judge correctly summarized the grounds for reconsideration under Rule 4:49-2. Reconsideration should be granted only where the court relied upon incorrect reasoning or failed to consider evidence in rendering the initial decision. See Cummings v. Bahr, 295 N.J. Super. 374, 384 (App. Div. 1996). In this case, the court denied reconsideration because defendant did not identify errors of that nature, and merely restated the reasons and rationale contained in his original application.
We review orders denying reconsideration for abuse of discretion. Dover-Chester Assocs. v. Randolph, 419 N.J. Super. 184, 195-96 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 208 N.J. 338 (2011). The Family Part judge did not misapply his discretion by denying defendant's request to dissolve the restraints because defendant identified no change in circumstances and no prejudice inuring to him as a result of the order. Defendant has not demonstrated that denial of reconsideration was an abuse of discretion because he did not convincingly argue the judge relied upon incorrect reasoning, or fail to consider any material facts. Defendant failed to meet the requirements of Rule 4:49-2. Hence we find no abuse of discretion in the judge's decision, and no merit in defendant's eight points of error.