MICHAEL GEANEY v. LILLIAN M. GEANEY

Annotate this Case

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE

APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY

APPELLATE DIVISION

DOCKET NO. A-3509-12T1

MICHAEL GEANEY,

Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

LILLIAN M. GEANEY,

Defendant-Appellant.

________________________________________________________________

December 30, 2014

 

Submitted December 16, 2014 Decided

Before Judges Koblitz and Higbee.

On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FM-13-150-07.

Lillian M. Geaney, appellant pro se.

Michael Geaney, respondent pro se.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Lillian M. Geaney appeals from Judge Paul X. Escandon's February 19, 2013 order denying her post-divorce motion "seeking to, once again, reveal the 'super secret ex parte' protected [o]rder of 09-18-09." We affirm based on the reasons expressed in Judge Escandon's attachment to that order as well as the likelihood that the issue is now moot.

The parties were married in 1979 and have two sons, one born in 1988 and the other in 1991. The parties were divorced by final judgment dated July 28, 1999 after entering into a property settlement agreement. They have been in litigation numerous times since their divorce and plaintiff Michael Geaney appealed to us on two prior occasions. Geaney v. Geaney, No. A-1034-10 (App. Div. February 24, 2012); Geaney v. Geaney, No. A-4591-06 (App. Div. May 14, 2008). On both occasions we remanded for a plenary hearing.

Defendant has provided us with a September 18, 2009 transcript, which she ordered for this appeal, of a proceeding that occurred towards the end of the 2009 remand hearing. The remand hearing concerned plaintiff's application to reduce support. The judge1 sealed2 the September 18 proceeding and specifically closed it to defendant and her attorney. The proceeding was a discussion held on the record among the judge, plaintiff, and his counsel only, involving the attorney's request to be relieved as counsel. Eleven days after this discussion, plaintiff's counsel wrote a letter stating that plaintiff withdrew his application to modify support, obviating the need to continue the plenary hearing.

When denying defendant's current motion, Judge Escandon wrote

Defendant has raised the issue of revealing the "super secret ex parte" protected [o]rder numerous times. Defendant's request has been denied numerous times. Nevertheless, [d]efendant has filed another [m]otion seeking its issuance. The [c]ourt agrees with [p]laintiff's assertion that [d]efendant's certification is incoherent in nature and difficult to decipher. What is clear, however, is that the issuance of this so-called "super secret ex parte" order has been ruled on numerous times. Plaintiff has attached two [] separate [o]rders to his certification, one dated March 15, 2011 and the other dated April 15, 2011. Both orders DENIED [d]efendant's request to reveal the "super secret ex parte" protected [o]rder. This issue was also dealt with at trial this past year. In her current [m]otion, [d]efendant goes so far as to allege a grand conspiracy involving [t]he Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and [the judge who held the 2009 hearing.]

Defendant's appellate brief is also "difficult to decipher." Although defendant sought an "order," we have no indication that an order was generated after the discussion on the record on September 18, 2009. Rather than an order, perhaps defendant has been seeking a copy of the sealed transcript of the proceeding where she and her attorney were excluded. It is unclear why the transcript was provided to defendant for appeal, in light of the sealing order and the apparent absence of an order unsealing it pursuant to Rule 1:38-12.

We note that the transcript of that 2009 discussion that we received was not ordered until six weeks after Judge Escandon's February 2013 order from which she appeals. Quite possibly, the receipt of the transcript satisfies defendant's desire to know what happened at the discussion in 2009 when she and her attorney were excluded. If so, this appeal is moot. "An issue is moot when the decision sought in a matter, when rendered, can have no practical effect on the existing controversy." Greenfield v. N.J. Dep't of Corr., 382 N.J. Super. 254, 257-58 (App. Div. 2006) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Defendant's remaining arguments are without sufficient merit to require a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).

Affirmed.


1 Judge Escandon did not preside over this remand hearing.

2 It appears from page three of the transcript that the record was sealed pursuant to Rule 1:38-11.