Corrupt CT originally shared to : If people would take a moment to read about what is being done to our innocent children, being ripped away from parents that love them. I give you a lot of credit for never giving up on ZORAYA
A Morris County Family Division judge denied a man his right to a fair hearing and inappropriately cut off his explanations before issuing a final domestic violence restraining order against the man who was accused of threatening to post intimate videos of his ex-girlfriend on the Internet, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The appellate panel, ruling in a Morris County case captioned C.H. vs. J.S., reversed a final restraining order issued on July 9, 2014 by Superior Court Judge Philip J. Maenza and ordered that a new hearing be conducted by another judge.
"Not only was the evidence of record insufficient to support the trial judge's conclusions, but also the procedures employed at trial deprived defendant of fundamental due process," the appeals court said in its written decision.
According to the decision. C.H. and J.S. began dating in June 2012 and ended their relationship in October 2013. They resumed their relationship before breaking up for good in June 2014. The man allegedly sent the woman a series of "six or seven ranting text messages" that called her names and suggested he would post private videos of the woman on the Internet, the decision said.
The parties were identified only by their initials in the ruling, which also did not state their hometowns.
At the hearing before Maenza, neither the man nor woman was represented by an attorney. The woman generally testified her ex-beau had previously threatened Internet postings of her and she "wanted to put a stop to it" so she contacted police.
At trial, Maenza asked: "How did this incident about the video affect you?" and "Are you concerned?" The woman responded that she was concerned because "once something goes on the Internet it doesn't come off the Internet."
The judge addressed the man at the hearing and asked whether he had questions for the woman. J.S. responded: "I don't know the context to ask something like this." The judge queried, according to the decision: "Well, let me ask you this, do you dispute that you had this conversation and these emails where you threatened to expose her to the world?"
The man responded: "I admit that the third time that she broke up with me I...was very hurt and I said things I didn't mean but I also think that after two years of being with me she knows that I would never do anything like that. I don't even know how to do anything like that. I wanted her to understand...how hurt I was...but that's it."
The hearing ended after J.S.'s statement, with the judge announcing:"That's where you cross the line." He found that J.S.'s statement's represented an admission of criminal harassment, concluded the ex-girlfriend had proved by a preponderance of the evidence that an act of domestic violence had occurred and decided to grant C.H. a final restraining order.
The appellate division wrote that the man attempted to ask a question but was "rebuffed," and when he objected that he believed he didn't get to ask several questions he wanted to, he was told he could ask questions after the order was issued, the decision said.
After the order was entered, J.S. -- through attorney Patricia Cistaro -- appealed the Maenza order. Cistaro was not immediately available for comment Tuesday. Cistaro had asserted that the "evidence" warranting a restraining order was insufficient and that J.S.'s due process rights to a fair hearing and right to defend himself against the harassment claims were violated.
The appeals court noted the importance of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and its goal of protecting people of all social and economic backgrounds from abuse. But the court found in this case that the record was limited, without supporting evidence about the exact content of the texts and the dates they were received. The court ruled that J.S.'s statements to Maenza also "were not an admission of the conduct and he specifically denied an intent to harass."
"The judge's abrupt ending to this 'hearing' curtailed the evidential presentations of both plaintiff and defendant," the appeals court wrote. "Thus, the record fails to support the entry of the final restraining order. Even more important, we conclude defendant's fundamental rights to be heard were trampled by the hearing procedures employed. A litigant in civil proceedings is entitled to a fair hearing, imbued with the protections of due process," the appeals court wrote.
The court also noted that judges have to be patient in dealing with parties who are not represented by attorneys at domestic violence hearings.
"Many litigants who come before our courts in domestic violence proceedings are unrepresented by counsel; many are unfamiliar with the courts and with their rights. Sifting through their testimony requires a high degree of patience and care. The pressures of heavy calendars and volatile proceedings may impede the court's willingness to afford much leeway to a party whose testimony may seem disjointed or irrelevant. But the rights of the parties to a full and fair hearing are paramount," the appeals court wrote.
Restraining orders are civil matters but violating a restraining order is a crime punishable upon conviction by up to 18 months in prison. The issuance of a restraining order against a person subjects that person to serious consequences that can include exclusion from a joint home, restrictions on visits with joint children and owning weapons, and bars against a career in law enforcement or corrections.
Staff Writer Peggy Wright: 973-267-1142; pwright@GannettNJ.com.
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Labels: Child Support, Closed-circuit television camera, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Facebook, Family law, Family Law Reform, Human Rights And Civil Liberties, Judicial Accountability, Legal Abuse Trauma/Syndrome
"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." (Tecumseh).
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
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