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A.M. v. J.S.V.

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 20, 2013

A.M., Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
J.S.V., Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 18, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Cape May County, Docket No. FV-05-0549-09.

Evan F. Nappen, PC, attorneys for appellant (Richard V. Gilbert, on the brief).

A.M., respondent pro se.

Before Judges Graves and Guadagno.

PER CURIAM

Defendant J.S.V. appeals from the March 30, 2012 order of the Family Part denying his motion to vacate a final restraining order entered on June 1, 2009, in favor of plaintiff A.M. We affirm.

Plaintiff and defendant were involved in a dating relationship that lasted approximately three-and-one-half years. For most of their relationship, the parties lived together, residing initially at defendant's parents' house and thereafter, at defendant's grandparents' house. At the time of the incident, defendant was working as a corrections officer at Bayside State Prison and plaintiff worked for a real estate agency.

On May 18, 2009, defendant told plaintiff that he wanted to end their relationship. Plaintiff was upset because she wanted the relationship to continue. Later that day, the parties had an argument. When plaintiff reminded defendant that he owed her money, he told her that she would get the money the following day. Defendant then got up, slammed the door, and told plaintiff that he was going to kill her. Plaintiff reported the incident to the police and obtained a temporary restraining order.

At a trial held on June 1, 2009, plaintiff testified to the May 18, 2009 incident as well as to numerous prior acts of domestic violence, dating back to 2005. Defendant testified and admitted telling plaintiff he was going to kill her, but claimed he was "frustrated" and "it was a stupid thing to say."

The court found that defendant's statement constituted harassment, given "the context of [the parties'] prior history." The judge found plaintiff's testimony concerning the prior acts of domestic violence to be credible because of "the level of detail" she provided and determined that defendant's "bald denial[s]" failed to "carry the day." The court concluded:

given [the] prior history . . . the alleged incident of the 18th, even assuming that he slammed the door first and yelled I should kill you, or I'm going to kill you, in my view does qualify as an act of harassment and ...

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