In an October 21 Appeals Court decision, a Newark police officer was had a
permanent restraining order issued against him because he physically assaulted
his ex-wife. The trial court previously found that the officer assaulted his wife of
less than a year at least 2 times over a 3 week period.
The ex-wife fled their Newark home on September 9 th , 2015 and went to a
women’s shelter in Middlesex County. She immediately went to Court for a
temporary restraining order (TRO) against her then husband. The court issued
the order that prohibited him from contacting her or coming within any close
proximity to her. He was also forbidden from possessing firearms, which
interfered with his job.
The incidents involving physical assault on the wife were documented by her
taking photographs, which she later submitted as evidence in court. One
encounter involved a lamp being thrown and in another, the officer roughly
gripped the wife’s forearm for 5 minutes to prevent her from leaving the home.
Other events included choking and neck squeezing.
The lower court made factual findings that the assaults indeed did occur, BUT
that a final restraining order (FRO) was unnecessary. Why? Because the couple
had no children, there was no further contact between them, the marriage was
brief, and there was a failure of proper service (delivery of the court papers) of
the earlier TRO. The biggest point made by the judge was that there were
“ONLY” two instances of physical assault that were substantiated and they did
not warrant a Final Restraining Order.
The Appeals Court decided that the lower court judge failed to analyze the case
properly, and an FRO was indeed warranted. The fact that the marriage was
short, or that there were no children, were irrelevant, because the law is intended
to protect one person from future threats or harm just as much as it does for
several people (e.g. children).
That upper court also went on to say that the history of assault, combined with
comments of future harm by the police officer that “he can harm her whenever he
wants” and “he would make her life hell” made the need for a Final Restraining
Order “self evident.” Evan Xavier Bakhet is a J.D. Candidate at Rutgers School of
Law-Newark with a scheduled graduation date in 2017. He collaborated with me
on this blog.