Restraining Orders and Statutory Immunity (Part 2)

by | Oct 3, 2023 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

Judge Sanders continued in relevant part: Considering these express statements by the Legislature and finding them to be essentially synergistic and complimentary in purpose, the court concludes that the application of immunity to purported harassing conduct by way of DCPP referrals would render an absurd result. Both statutes place primacy on the protection of children either directly or derivatively. To apply the immunity statute in the context of domestic violence would legalize the weaponization of DCPP referrals as a mechanism of harassment, which would further victimize children as being exposed to such acts of domestic violence. It is that result that this court finds to be absurd as it contravenes the purpose of both statutes.

Put more specifically, applying the immunity statute, which is primarily employed as a mechanism to protect children, to DCPP referrals made as harassing conduct in the domestic violence arena, would put children at risk of being exposed to domestic violence by virtue of an unrestrained ability to use such referrals as a legal means to harass the putative victim. Thus, applying the immunity statute would contravene not only the PDVA, but also the underlying purpose of the immunity statute itself by putting children at risk of being exposed to harassment, and thus domestic violence, by DCPP referrals. Therefore, while recognizing the absolute and inclusionary language in the immunity statute, the court finds that it is inapplicable in the realm of domestic violence as it would render an absurd result.

Thus, the court finds that it is more likely than not that W.M-H. made the referral to DCPP as a means of retaliation and that his conduct is not shrouded by the immunity statute. Next, the court must determine whether there is a need for a final restraining order considering all of the credible evidence in this record. The court shall now address the statutory factors under N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(a) seriatim.

Judge Sanders has argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court on numerous occasions. It would not be surprising if he eventually sat on that Court as a Justice.