Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Articles Posted in Restraining Orders

This is one of the most sensitive issues that the lawyers at my law firm have faced in the past 20 years of handling final restraining order matters here in New Jersey. Long story short, we represented the victim of domestic violence in a final restraining order hearing at the Family Part, Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County. Just as the trial was about to begin, the attorney for the defendant stated that she would like to video the domestic violence trial. Of course, we immediately objected (we feared that the defendant would then place this video on the Internet in a future attempt to further harass our client) and requested a conference. Back in chambers, the judge then advised both lawyers that they had one hour “over lunch break” to research the issue and prepare their respective arguments.

At that point, myself and two of the other attorneys at my office all dove in (we practice “team work” at our law firm) to help our fellow associate attorney at the court house with research of case law, statutes and any other directives that would bolster our argument. By 1:30 p.m. that afternoon, his argument prevailed and the defendant was not allowed to video the final restraining order trial.   Our client was beyond relieved.

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As an attorney who has handled countless restraining order trials, it is my legal opinion that cell phones have been a true game-changer with respect to the landscape of New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. As I and the experienced attorneys ay my law firm all embrace, cell phones can contain valuable evidence in the form of text messages, e-mails, and voice-mails that can make or break a vast majority of final restraining order trials. Still there are strict rules about evidence and whether it is admissible in a New Jersey Family Court and how evidence must be presented. The recent case of E.C. v. R.H. tackled the issue of how electronic information stored on cell phones should be presented in a court of law.

BULLY

In E.C. v. R.H. , Judge Jones, Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Ocean County, explained what should happen at a final hearing when a litigant presents evidence directly from his or her phone such as texts, e-mails, social media messages, or audio/visual evidence.

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After 20 years as a family law attorney, I am well aware that it is much easier to obtain a temporary restraining order (usually done without the assistance of an attorney) versus being granted a final restraining order (which usually requires a lawyer experienced in domestic violence matters). Moreover, through out my years as an attorney I thought I had seen it all, until the first time my client failed to appear for their court date, not just once, but twice! Well, you do not need to be a lawyer to know that it is a litigant’s duty to appear in court and failure to appear may very well lead to defeat. Even an open and shut case will be put into peril by a continued nonappearance. In K.M. v. A.M., the New Jersey Appellate Division confirmed that the dismissal of the “victim’s” complaint for a final restraining order was appropriate due to multiple failures to appear at the hearing.

Middlesex County Family Court

Middlesex County Family Court

Many times, Family Part judges utilize restraining orders to protect women from their former partners. A temporary restraining order is an order issued by a judge in an attempt to keep one person from harassing another person or group of people. The temporary restraining order is only effective for a short period of time, usually lasting no more than a month at most. This is because, in most instances, only one person’s request is needed to get the order. For it to become permanent or semi-permanent, a court of law must hear from not only the party who wants someone else to leave him or her alone, but also needs to hear from the person who is accused of violence, harassment, stalking, or other potentially illegal action.