In the Matter of K.M.D.
Docket No. A-3089-20
Decided November 23, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Civil Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided appellant’s appeal from a Final Extreme Risk Protective Order (“FERPO”) entered against him.
In August 2020, police responded to a crisis call from appellant’s wife in which she expressed concern that appellant was going to harm himself. Appellant had called his wife and stated he was staring at a bullet for at least two weeks and wanted her on the phone when he pulled the trigger. Officers responded to appellant’s home and saw him bleeding from a from a laceration in his head and he appeared to be very tensed up. Appellant’s son advised police that appellant was drinking heavily the last few weeks and purposely took too much prescription medication. The appellant was eventually interviewed by an officer who observed that he looked mentally unstable and was having a very bad day. Appellant advised that he regularly attended psychiatry visits to treat his depression and anxiety, but “was having these thoughts.”
Appellant’s wife advised the officer that there were weapons in the home and she was concerned that appellant would take his own life. Appellant was then admitted to the crisis center for three days. After hearing the facts of this matter, police were concerned that appellant might use the guns he owns to take his own life and applied for a Temporary Extreme Risk Protective Order (“TERPO”), which was granted later that day.
At the FERPO trial, appellant’s wife testified she called police because she was concerned he would hurt himself based on his reaction to the medication. Although she reported appellant had been staring at a bullet, she later denied the claim under oath. Appellant testified he was having a bad day and overmedicated himself on the day of the incident. He indicated that he dumped the rest of the ketamine in the toilet, has been going through withdrawal and has been clean ever since. Appellant stated he felt more clear-minded than he had before.
Appellant’s psychiatrist testified as well. She had been treating appellant since she initially evaluated him in November 2017. At the time, he was having chronic suicidal thoughts for years. Appellant was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, over time she dropped the bipolar diagnosis and diagnosed him with depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder (ADD). The psychiatrist further testified that appellant was very depressed for much of the time she was treating him, but is not currently depressed. She also noted that appellant was very anxious, and was now much, much less anxious. Appellant’s psychiatrist claimed he never told her he was going to take his own life, but had told her he would not act on his thoughts. The trial court found by a preponderance of the evidence that appellant poses a significant danger of bodily injury to himself. The court determined that the evidence regarding appellant’s mental health, namely, his treatment, diagnosis, and prognosis cumulatively weigh in favor of the FERPO based upon the history, statements and the behavior in conjunction with the facts of the underlying incident. Thus, the court concluded appellant poses a significant danger of bodily injury to himself by owning, possessing, purchasing, or receiving a firearm. Appellant appealed.
On appeal, appellant contended the trial judge’s application of the facts to the statutory and guidelines factors were incorrect. The Appellate Court disagreed and found that the trial judge’s findings were supported by substantial credible evidence in the record. Therefore, the court determined there was no abuse of discretion and affirmed the decision for the reasons expressed by the trial judge.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to Final Extreme Risk Protective Order hearings. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the appellant in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.