A late February appeals court decision confirmed that an ex-girlfriend’s several hundred daily texts/phone calls, among other things, is enough for a court to issue a Final Restraining Order on the grounds of harassment. Since defendant admitted to this behavior in her own testimony, the order was properly issued.
V.L., 25, filed an application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in November 2015 against his then girlfriend because she “flipped out”. He claimed that she told him she was pregnant with his child, wanted to get back together, “called him about one thousand times, and sent twice that amount of text messages.” When V.L. got a new girlfriend, he said that the ex made threats against her and contacted family members.
The lower court issued a TRO that prohibited the ex from any form of contact with V.L. An hearing was held a few weeks later at which some interesting testimony was given. In summary, the couple broke off their relationship officially, but continued to have physical contact that culminated in a series of arguments. In response, the ex-girlfriend used her alleged pregnancy to harass, text and call V.L. thousands of times, and even placed strange “missing person” flyers near plaintiff’s residence featuring his portrait.
The judge found that this amounted to “a form of harassment” not justified under the law, and that a Final Restraining Order should be entered. On appeal, K.A.B. said that there was insufficient evidence “to find harassment under [the law]” and that the trial judge failed to “make the required finding that she acted with a purpose or intent to seriously annoy or alarm plaintiff.” Finally, she said that even if her behavior constituted harassment, there was no need to issue an FRO.
New Jersey by statute defines harassment as including physical/verbal abuse or communications that are made anonymously or at inconvenient hours/in offensively course language, likely to cause annoyance or alarm [N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4a to 4c]. The lower court found – and the appeal court agreed – that there was sufficient evidence to support the trial judge’s opinion that she indeed harassed plaintiff by her own admission of the continuous calls/texts, and the FRO was properly entered. 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.