Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Criminal Part, Middlesex
Kologi, Defense Attorney
BEFORE: Hon, Alberto Rivas, A J.S.C.
ALBERTO RIVAS, ASSIGNMENT JUDGE
February 2, 2017, Theresa Mullen ("Mullen") went to
her children's school, St. Theresa's, located in
Kenilworth. Mullen's behavior at the school resulted in
criminal charges against her. Specifically, she was charged
with violating N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3(b), which states:
b. Defiant trespasser. A person commits a petty disorderly
persons offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or
privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place as to
which notice against trespass is given by;
(1) Actual communication to the actor; or
(2) Posting in a manner prescribed by law or reasonably
likely to come to the attention of intruders; or
(3) Fencing or other enclosure manifestly designed to exclude
trial on the charges took place on January 24-25, 2018,
before this court. This opinion represents the court's
findings of fact and verdict.
issue at the trial was whether Mullen violated 2C:18-3(b)(1).
In order to find Mullen guilty, the State must prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that "the defendant was directly
advised against trespass." State in Interest of
L.E.W., 239 N.J.Super. 65, 71-72 (App. Div. 1990).
State v. Brennan, 344 N J. Super, 136 (App, Div,
2001) establishes the parameters in evaluating the evidence
in this case to determine whether Mullen was guilty of
violating the law.
Brennan, a citizen attending a city council meeting
became disruptive. He was advised that the police would be
called to remove him from the meeting; Brennan's defiant
response was that he welcomed police involvement.
Brennan, 344 NJ. Super, at 139. The police
responded, and Brennan refused to leave after the police told
him he had to leave the meeting. Id. Following his
refusal, they arrested Brennan, Id. at 142. The
court noted that Brennan had focused his defense on whether
he had been disruptive and whether City officials acted
properly toward him. Id. at 143. The court found
that when evaluating a charge of defiant trespassing, the
focus was not on die behavior of the municipal officials but
instead on the reasonableness of the police behavior and
defendant's response to the requests of the police-
Id. With this background, the court will review the
proofs at trial.
to February 2, 2017, Mullen and her family were involved in
contentious litigation with St. Theresa's School. A civil
lawsuit was pending at the time. On February 1, 2017, the
Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of
Newark, which includes St- Theresa's School, wrote a
letter to Mullen and her husband. In the letter, the
Superintendent quoted a portion of the St. Theresa's
Parent/Student Handbook, which stated:
If a parent implicates St, Theresa's School in a legal
matter, or names St. Theresa's as a defendant in a civil
matter, the parent/guardian will be requested to remove their
children immediately from the school.
of the page of the handbook, which contained this provision,
was included with the letter, along with a copy of the
acknowledgment of receipt of the handbook form signed ...