We have previously blogged about domestic violence in the digital age, discussing how various forms of electronic surveillance can be deemed an act of domestic violence in New Jersey. As also previously blogged on, so-called "cyberstalkers" may potentially face stiffer penalties for their conduct under two proposed bills in the New Jersey Assembly. These types of remedies and protection are becoming more and more necessary as people are utilizing new technologies to abuse their victims.
In S.B. v. Duffy, a new unreported (not precedential) decision from the Appellate Division, it affirmed a trial court’s finding that a former boyfriend had committed an act of domestic violence by emailing the plaintiff and threatening her that if she did not answer his email within three days, he would, among other things, put nude photos of her on a website. The plaintiff testified that after a first court adjournment, she continued to receive emails from the boyfriend and that the boyfriend was posting things about her on his website. She also testified that the boyfriend had changed his password and that she could not access the website to see what he was posting.
Despite the boyfriend’s testimony that the plaintiff had full access to his website, that it was her who was disrupting the site, and that he did not write the emails to her, the trial court entered a final restraining order in part because of the photographs in existence, which were taken in a private setting during the relationship. The court actually disregarded the emails because there was no proof as to who wrote them without expert testimony.
As this case demonstrates, with rapid changes in technology courts are faced with new types of misconduct upon which determinations as to domestic violence are required.