STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. CHIA TAI

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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff–Respondent, v. CHIA H. TAI, Defendant–Appellant.

DOCKET NO. A–2303–12T1

Decided: March 13, 2014

Before Judges Ashrafi and Leone. Chia H. Tai, appellant pro se. Carolyn A. Murray, Acting Essex County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Stephen A. Pogany, Special Deputy Attorney General/Acting Assistant Prosecutor, on the brief).

Defendant Chia Tai appeals from the judgment of the Law Division dated December 11, 2012, finding him guilty of harassment, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33–4(c), a petty disorderly persons offense.   We affirm.

The charge arose from an incident on January 30, 2012, just before the start of a board meeting of the condominium association for the building where defendant lived.   One and a half months before that meeting, defendant had been convicted in the West Orange Municipal Court of simple assault.   In the earlier case, defendant was alleged to have shoved a female member of the board at a prior board meeting in October 2011.   As part of his sentence for the assault conviction, defendant was ordered to have no contact with the board member.   Following that conviction, the attorney for the condominium association wrote to defendant stating that the board had suspended his right to attend its meetings for six months.

At the municipal court trial in this matter, the same board member testified that, on January 30, 2012, she was sitting at a table as the meeting was about to begin.   Defendant entered the meeting room and approached to within three feet of her, and he repeatedly called her a liar.   Another board member, Dr. Feinsod, asked defendant to leave the room, and he did.   A few minutes later, defendant came back and began to move toward the woman again.   She fled the room in fear of what defendant might do.

Dr. Feinsod testified that he was seated at the table along with the woman when defendant entered and approached at “a very fast gait.”   Defendant stood two or three feet away.   He was animated and upset, “yelling and screaming.”   Dr. Feinsod walked around the table and stood between defendant and the woman.   He repeatedly asked defendant to leave the room, and defendant eventually left.   Several minutes later, defendant returned and went straight toward the same woman.   Dr. Feinsod again interceded and told him to leave.   Defendant was again yelling, calling the woman a liar.   He left the room but continued to look through a window into the room.

Defendant testified at his trial that he went to the meeting room the first time only to get a copy of the agenda for the board meeting, and that he did not have any contact with the woman.   He said he went back a second time because he wanted to explain to some residents that the board would not permit him to attend the meeting.   He claimed that the woman and Dr. Feinsod fabricated their version of the incident.   Defendant also submitted an affidavit by another resident of the building, who said Dr. Feinsod approached defendant as soon as he entered the room and asked him to leave.

The municipal court judge, a different judge from the one who had tried the earlier assault case, placed his findings and conclusions orally on the record.   He credited the testimony of the woman and Dr. Feinsod and found defendant's testimony not to be credible.   He found defendant guilty of harassment, and imposed a fine of $500, statutory money penalties, and court costs.

On defendant's appeal to the Law Division pursuant to Rule 3:23, Judge Ramona Santiago reviewed the record de novo that was established in the municipal court.   The judge heard motions and arguments made by defendant, and she issued a letter-opinion rejecting defendant's contentions and finding him guilty of harassment.

For his pro se appeal before us, defendant raises the following arguments:

POINT I

THE COURT VIOLATED MY LEGAL RIGHT TO NOTICE.

A. Constitutional Notice of a Criminal Charge Requires More Than a Verbatim Statement of the Statutory Offense.

B. The Complaint Lacks Any Content Alleging Conduct That, If True, Constitutes Offense.

C. The Content Upon Which the Final Charge of Harassment Was Based Was Unconstitutionally Withheld from Me Until the Middle of the Trial.

D. The Superior Court Apparently Mixed Up the Difference Between the “Testimony” and the Nature and Cause of an Accusation.

POINT II

BY IGNORING THE AVAILABLE DOCUMENT AND UNREASONABLENESS, THE COURT DID NOT PROPERLY APPLY THE REASONABLE STANDARD IN THIS CASE.

A. The Original Complaint and the New Allegation at Trial.

B. The Documents That Should Have Easily Raised Doubt of the Truthfulness of the New Allegation.

C. The Unreasonableness That Would Also Offer Doubt of the Truthfulness of the New Allegation.

D. Other Comments.

POINT III

CREDIBILITY FINDING SHOULD NOT BE APPLIED IN THIS CASE.

Having reviewed the record, we reject defendant's appeal and affirm essentially for the reasons stated in the thorough written decision of Judge Santiago dated December 11, 2012.   We conclude that defendant's arguments, including additional arguments not presented in the Law Division, are without sufficient merit to warrant discussion in another written opinion.   R. 2:11–3(e)(2).

Affirmed.

PER CURIAM

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