On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Municipal Appeal No. 001-24-11.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued December 19, 2012 -
Before Judges Ashrafi, Hayden, and Lisa.
Defendant, Zamir Margalit, appeals from his conviction after a trial de novo in the Law Division, see R. 3:23-8(a), of the petty disorderly persons offense of harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4(a). Defendant was sentenced to pay a fine of $50, court costs of $33, a Violent Crime Compensation Board penalty of $50, and a Safe Neighborhood Fund assessment of $75.*fn1
On appeal, defendant argues:
The de novo conviction of Zamir Margalit under Complaint-Summons 0213 S 2011 000142 charging the Defendant with an offense under 2C:33-4(a) must be dismissed as a matter of law.
Point II Mr. Margalit's statement was not made in a manner which amounted to a violation of the Statute.
Point III The de novo Court should have dismissed the charge Based on the fact that the Municipal Court improperly Determined at the close of the State's case that the State had proven its case before the Defendant Testified.
We reject these arguments and affirm.
At the time of the underlying incident, which occurred on June 9, 2011, defendant and Kathy Dorfman were neighbors in a condominium complex and had known each other for three to four years. They were each involved in legal disputes with the condominium association. Although the disputes were separate, the subject matter was somewhat related. They had some prior antagonistic history. For example, defendant maintained a blog in which he constantly criticized the management of the condominium complex and depicted it as a very undesirable place to live; Dorfman posted entries on defendant's blog criticizing this conduct, contending it generated bad publicity for the complex, having the likelihood of reducing property values for everyone. On one occasion in 2008, while in Dorfman's home, defendant made an offensive comment to Dorfman, who is Russian, stating that "Russians [are] all whores by nature."
Between the time of that incident in 2008 and June 9, 2011, Dorfman had not invited defendant into her home, and apparently the relationship between them remained strained. When Dorfman became aware that defendant might possess some documentation arising from his legal dispute with the condominium association that might be helpful in her dispute with the association, she e-mailed him to inquire about it. He responded by e-mail that he had documentation in which she might be interested. She then called and asked him to bring the documents to her home for her review.
Dorfman described the events as follows: Defendant arrived on June 9, 2011. It was lunch time, and Dorfman was about to have a drink. She offered to share a drink with defendant. He accepted, and she mixed him a Bloody Mary. Dorfman looked at the documents defendant produced. She quickly determined they were nothing that ...