LAURA A. SABBA v. JOSEPH SABBA
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
DOCKET NO. A-6545-04T16545-04T1
LAURA A. SABBA,
Submitted March 28, 2006 - Decided May 2, 2006
Before Judges Collester and S.L. Reisner.
On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey,
Chancery Division, Family Part, Union County,
John A. Patti, attorney for appellant.
Respondent has not filed a brief.
Plaintiff Laura Sabba appeals from an order denying entry of a final restraining order (FRO) and dismissing a temporary restraining order (TRO) entered under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17. In her complaint plaintiff alleged that her husband, defendant Joseph Sabba, committed various acts of domestic violence on June 24, 2005, including harassment, terroristic threats, and stalking. At the FRO hearing plaintiff and defendant were the only witnesses. They were married on March 4, 2001, and they had one child, four-year-old Sienna Sabba. At the time of the incident, a complaint for divorce had been filed, and a major contested issue was custody of Sienna. Plaintiff testified that on June 24, 2005, she decided to spend the day with her daughter, her friend and her friend's child at Point Pleasant Beach. It is undisputed that defendant was to have visitation with the child late that afternoon. According to plaintiff, defendant called her numerous times to find out where she was and repeatedly insulted her with obscenities. She said he called her cell phone fifteen or twenty times and she stopped answering after four or five calls. When she was driving back and about to drop off her friend, she said that defendant pulled next to her in his car and forced her to pull over to the side of the road. She said she got out of her car and defendant confronted her and called her obscene names and called her friend a "rat" while he held her car door shut so she could not get back in. She said he threatened to wait for her at her residence and said, "Laura, I'll fucking kill you." When she was able to enter her car, plaintiff drove her girlfriend home, went to her parents' home and later to the Linden police station where she signed a domestic violence complaint and obtained a temporary restraining order. During her testimony at the FRO hearing, she admitted calling the defendant numerous times after the trial but said the calls only related to their daughter.
In his testimony defendant admitted calling plaintiff several times that day, but denied any obscenities and said the calls from his employment were recorded. He said he was upset and concerned that he would not be with his daughter that afternoon. He testified that he was in Linden later that day, and when he saw defendant drive by, he followed her. He denied forcing her off the road. He said she pulled over and they had an argument. However, he denied threatening plaintiff.
Judge Frederick R. McDaniel issued an oral opinion denying an FRO after finding that plaintiff had not proved an act of domestic violence by a preponderance of the evidence. The judge further found that plaintiff's version of the events was not credible. Credibility findings by a trial judge are given great deference on appeal. If there is substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole, we will defer to those factual findings. Rova Farms Resort, Inc. v. Investors Ins. Co., 65 N.J. 474, 483-84 (1974); State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146, 162 (1964). We perceive no basis to upset the findings by Judge McDaniel.
May 2, 2006