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  • Allison Kruk Ormond

What Can I Do If I Lose At My Domestic Violence Trial?

Recently, the New Jersey Appellate Division granted relief for the Plaintiff in a domestic violence case who discovered new evidence after losing at trial. 

The case highlights what you can do if your domestic violence restraining order gets denied and how you can keep fighting for protection even after your final restraining order hearing. 

New Jersey Appeals Court Reconsiders Domestic Violence Case After New Evidence Surfaces

Domestic Violence Courts in New Jersey reconsider following new evidence

In M.S. v. T.S., the Plaintiff obtained a temporary restraining order after she received numerous harassing phone calls purportedly from the Defendant. However, because the Defendant called her from a blocked number, she was unable to verify through her cell phone provider that the calls came from him. 

She reported the incident to police, but law enforcement did not assign a detective to investigate the matter until after the domestic violence proceedings concluded. 

Since she could not prove the calls originated from the Defendant, the trial court denied her application for a permanent restraining order. 

The day after trial, a detective from the Washington Township Police Department subpoenaed the records from Defendant’s cell phone company. After local police issued their subpoena, they were able to verify that the harassing calls came from Defendant’s cell phone. 

Following this investigation, Plaintiff’s counsel filed a motion for reconsideration, asking the Superior Court judge to reexamine the final restraining order (FRO) hearing and the denial of Plaintiff’s application for a permanent restraining order. The Court initially denied Plaintiff’s request, prompting her to file an appeal. 

On appeal, the Court remanded the proceedings back to the trial court and ordered that they reconsider their decision in light of the new evidence against Defendant. The Court based its decision on the fact that Plaintiff could not have obtained the phone records prior to her domestic violence trial through “due diligence” and that this new evidence could have altered the trial court’s judgment. 

Again, the case highlights what litigants can do to safeguard their rights even after experiencing an adverse outcome at trial. 

How Can I File a Motion for Reconsideration?

If your temporary restraining order (TRO) gets dismissed, there can still be relief available to you.

For instance, Court Rule 4:49-2 governs motions for reconsideration. You can file a motion for reconsideration if the trial court made a decision based on “plainly incorrect reasoning” or failed to consider relevant evidence. 

As the T.S. Court clarified, you can also file a motion for reconsideration if you want to bring new information to the Court’s attention that could not have been presented in the initial application. However, you must demonstrate that this new information was not capable of being presented initially despite “reasonable diligence” on the Plaintiff’s part. 

In the domestic violence context, this new information could arguably pertain to further proof of the act of domestic violence itself. For example, in T.S., the newly available evidence was the Defendant’s phone records, which showed he was the one who had been repeatedly harassing the Plaintiff. 

To file a motion for reconsideration, you must do so within twenty (20) days of receiving the final order from the Court. 

Can I Request a New Trial in My Domestic Violence Case?

In addition to requesting reconsideration upon the discovery of new evidence, you can also file a motion for a new trial. 

This is governed by R. 4:49-1. It requires the movant to demonstrate “clearly and convincingly” that there was a miscarriage of justice under the law and that a new trial is required to correct it. The Rule authorizes the trial court to take additional testimony from witnesses; change its findings of fact and conclusions; and/or enter a new judgment. 

As with motions for reconsideration, a motion for a new trial has to be filed and served no more than twenty (20) days after the Court issues its decision. 

In addition, the Court on its own initiative can also call for a new trial within twenty (20) days of issuing its Order. 

Contact A Domestic Violence Attorney Near You

Whether you are the Plaintiff or the Defendant, having smart legal representation in your corner can make all the difference in the outcome of your domestic violence case

At Ormond Law, we offer you the honest advice; clear guidance; and effective advocacy you need to strategically litigate your domestic violence case.

If you or a loved one need legal help in your domestic violence trial or appeal, contact Ormond Law today for a free consultation and strategy session and get the legal support you need. 

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