A recent appellate court decision demonstrates the importance of having a qualified attorney at trial. In M.M-C, v. I.I, the defendant appealed a final restraining order entered against him under the provisions of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17- N.J.S.A. 2C:25-35.

The defendant raised several points on appeal. For the first time, Defendant asserted that he was denied due process and the fundamental right to exercise his religion. Defendant asserted that the judge barred him from entering his mosque without first holding a hearing to ascertain whether this total restraint would be necessary. Defendant asserted that the judge should have considered less burdensome restraints.

The appellate court refused to address this point on appeal because the defendant failed to raise this constitutional challenge before the trial judge. Citing State v. Robinson, 200 N.J.L, 18-19 (2009) the court reasoned that the defendant did not properly preserve the issue for appellate review. As a result, the appellate court would not consider it on appeal.

The court acknowledged that there are exceptions to this rule such as arguments pertaining to jurisdiction and matters of great public interest. However, the court reasoned that none of these factors were present in this case.  Since defendant did not raise this issue at trial, the appellate court determined that he would be precluded from raising this issue on appeal.