Monthly Archives: July 2006

People Must Submit to Good Faith Detentions – State v. Crawley

This morning the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that when police officers, acting in good faith, respond to a radio dispatch related to suspicious behavior, they are engaged in a lawful activity. As such, a person who becomes the subject of a police order to remain at the scene of an investigation must submit to the police command, even if the detention is not based upon a reasonable suspicion.

The defendant is the instant case fled from a police investigative encounter and was charged with obstructing the administration of law under NJSA 2C:29-1. The defendant maintained that since his detention was not based upon reasonable suspicion, the police were not engaged in “lawfully performing an official function.,” an element of NJSA 2C:29-1.

Writing for the Court, Justice Albin concluded that, as a matter of public policy, persons who are subject to good faith police investigative detentions, even those that are not based upon reasonable suspicion, must submit and may subsequently raise in court challenges to the reasonableness of the police actions.

This holding is entirely consistent with previous case law interpreting the resisting arrest and eluding statutes.

Download a copy of State v. Crawley.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

PTI rejection Upheld in DWI/Assault by Auto Case – State v. Moreas-Pena

This Appellate Division holding stands for the proposition that the county prosecutor did not abuse his discretion when rejecting a PTI application from a defendant who pled guilty to assault by auto while intoxicated.

Note the Court’s criticism of the procedures used here in that the PTI appeal to the Law Division followed a guilty plea. Note in addition how the Court questioned the practice of remanding the DWI ticket to municipal court after the defendant had pled guilty to an offense in Superior Court that has DWI as an element.

Download a copy of this case.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Police May Qualify as Experts in DWI u/i Marijuana Cases -State v. Bealor

Today’s decision in State v. Bealor by the New Jersey Supreme Court clarifies the extent to which expert testimony is required to prove a driving while under the influence of marijuana case.

The Justices ruled that expert testimony is the preferred method of proving these cases. However, the Court implied that municipal prosecutors routinely may be able to qualify lay police officers as experts in detecting the symptoms of a person who is under the influence of marijuana based upon their basic training and experience as law enforcement officers. (Although not cited by the Court, this has long been part of New Jersey law – see generally State v. Jackson, 124 N.J. Super. 1 (App. Div. 1973)).

The Court also ruled that the fact of intoxication and the cause of that intoxication need not be proven by expert testimony. Rather, the fact-finder may view all the direct and circumstantial evidence, including the defendant’s conduct and the results of scientific tests performed upon blood or urine samples taken from the body of the defendant in deciding whether the defendant operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

Download a copy of State v. Bealor.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Intoxication Must Be Sole Cause of Accident to Bar Workers’ Comp Claim – Tlumac v. High Bridge Stone

This morning’s Supreme Court decision in Tlumac v. High Bridge Stone stands for the proposition that when intoxication is raised as a defense to a workers’ compensation claim, in order to prevail, the defense must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the resulting injury or death was solely attributable to the intoxication.

The plaintiff in this case operated a work vehicle during the course of his employment while intoxicated. He was involved in a serious accident and sustained debilitating injuries. Thereafter he filed a comp claim. The defense asserted NJSA 34:15-7, which bars comp claims when intoxication directly caused the injury or death associated with the claim.

The Supreme Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence in the record to demonstrate that other factors, in addition to the level of intoxication, in this cases contributed to the cause of the accident. As a result, the comp claim was not barred by NJSA 34:15-7.

Download a copy of Tlumac v. High Bridge Stone

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Exclusive Jurisdiction Vested in Superior Court for Certain Tickets

The governor has signed into law a statute that vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Superior Court for Title 39 violations that are companion to criminal charges involving death or serious bodily injury.

Utilizing this procedure will prevent potential double jeopardy issues that might arise if a defendant pleads guilty to a traffic ticket containing recklessness as an element while there remains an unresolved indictable criminal charge that also has recklessness as an element.

Essentially, this statute codifies the New Jersey Supreme Court directive issued 23 years ago following the publication of State v. Dively, 92 N.J. 573 (1983).

Beyond this, note that the original bill was introduced by Mercer County legislators. Mercer County (Ewing Township) was the venue where, in a locally notorious case, a defense attorney attempted to enter a plea on behalf of his client to reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident during a first appearance in municipal court without revealing to the judge and municipal prosecutor that the accident that resulted in the tickets being issued involved two homicides and charges of aggravated manslaughter. See generally In re Seelig, 180 N.J. 234 (2004). The new law was enacted in direct response to that case.

The new statute and accompanying statement are as follows:

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. a. In any matter concerning Title 39 of the Revised Statutes where death or serious bodily injury has occurred, regardless of whether the death or serious bodily injury is an element of the offense or violation, the Superior Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the offense or violation until such time that the Superior Court transfers the matter to the municipal court. For the purposes of this section, the term “serious bodily injury” shall have the meaning set forth in subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:11-1.

b. The Attorney General may develop guidelines establishing procedures to be followed for prosecutions involving violations of N.J.S.2C:11-4, N.J.S.2C:11-5 or section 1 of P.L.1997, c.111 (C.2C:11-5.1) or criminal offenses involving serious bodily injury and underlying motor vehicle offenses arising from the same incident consistent with the provisions of P.L. , c. (C. ) (now pending before the Legislature as this bill).

2. In order to promote uniform enforcement in matters when death or serious bodily injury arises out of a motor vehicle incident, any guidelines developed by the Attorney General pursuant to the provisions of this act may be disseminated to the county prosecutors.

3. This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

The bill provides that in any matter concerning a motor vehicle incident where death or serious bodily injury has occurred, regardless of whether death or serious bodily injury is an element of the offense or violation, the Superior Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the offense or violation until such time that the Superior Court transfers the matter to the municipal court. By clearly and unequivocally placing jurisdiction with regard to these matters with the Superior Court, the bill would provide for one court to resolve the case as opposed to two different courts, the municipal and Superior Court, working at odds with each other.

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that, after a defendant pleads guilty in municipal court to traffic offenses, the double jeopardy provisions of the State and federal constitutions bar a subsequent prosecution against him in Superior Court for criminal charges arising out of the same incident. State v. Dively, 92 N.J. 573 (1983)

This bill was prompted by an incident in which a Trenton couple was killed but the defendant had entered a guilty plea in municipal court to traffic offenses prior to the resolution of the criminal charges for aggravated manslaughter and death by auto. Under Dively, the disposition in municipal court of the traffic offenses precluded the prosecutor from bringing the defendant to trial on the criminal charges. It is the intention of the sponsor that established guidelines may prevent this type of situation from occurring in the future.

The bill provides that the Attorney General may develop guidelines on this issue and may disseminate the guidelines to the county prosecutors.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Chief Justice Orders Courts Open – Statute of Lim. Tolled.

Governor Corzine in Executive Order No. 19, issued July 8, 2006, having rescinded certain operative portions of Executive Order No. 17, which had declared a state of emergency and closed state offices for regular business except for essential services and functions, and having directed an orderly resumption of state government functions and services, it is ORDERED that (a) the July 3, 2006 Order retroactively closing the state courts as of July 1, 2006 except for emergent court matters and such other essential functions and supporting operations as may be determined by the Chief Justice, (b) the July 5, 2006 Order supplementing the July 3, 2006 Order and setting out additional essential functions, and (c) the July 6, 2006 Order supplementing the July 3, 2006 and July 5, 2006 Orders and adding further essential functions are hereby rescinded effective immediately, except as set forth in the following paragraphs; and

It is FURTHER ORDERED that for the period during which the state courts were closed pursuant to the July 3, 2006 Order – that is, from July 1, 2006 through the date of this Order – in the computation of time periods under the Rules of Court and any statute of limitations, each such day that the state courts were closed shall be deemed the same as a legal holiday, with the time periods and statutes of limitations tolled for state court matters; and

It is FURTHER ORDERED that the terms of those grand juries that were impaneled as of June 30, 2006, which terms were extended by the Orders of July 3, 2006 and July 5, 2006, shall continue until concluded by order of the respective Assignment Judge; and

It is FURTHER ORDERED that, as provided in the Order of July 5, 2006, all domestic violence Temporary Restraining Orders shall remain in effect until further order of the court in each individual matter.

Deborah T. Poritz
Chief Justice

Dated: July 8, 2006

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Chief Justice Modifies Court Shut Down Order

This supplements and modifies (a) the July 3, 2006 Order that retroactively closed the state courts as of July 1, 2006 except for emergent court matters and such other essential functions and supporting operations as may be determined by the Chief Justice, and (b) the July 5, 2006 order supplementing the July 3, 2006 order and setting out additional essential functions;

It is ORDERED that, effective immediately, there shall be a resumption of all Rule 1:10-3 Relief to Litigant Proceedings required pursuant to Directive #2-04 for child support obligors held on a child support warrant, including such pre-hearing interviews and reports by Probation as are required; and,

It is FURTHER ORDERED that, effective immediately, there shall be a resumption of proceedings related to the following matters in the Civil Division: applications for Orders for Hardship Stays of Eviction; applications for Orders for Orderly Removal; applications to Set Aside Levy on Exempt Funds; in addition, applications to Modify or Set Aside a Wage Garnishment, or to Challenge a Writ of Replevin may be resumed on the court’s determination that the matter is emergent; and,

It is FURTHER ORDERED that, effective immediately, the status of persons confined on the basis of a civil writ or warrant for arrest shall be reviewed to determine if the warrant can be disposed or conditions of release established; and
It is FURTHER ORDERED that, effective immediately, the minimum support functions necessary for operation of the Interstate Compact for Offender Supervision shall be resumed; and

It is FURTHER ORDERED that, effective July 7, 2006, all basic supervision functions and the minimum necessary support functions of the Intensive Supervision Program and the Juvenile Intensive Supervision Program shall be resumed; and

It is FURTHER ORDERED that, effective July 7, 2006, basic supervision of specialized probation caseloads, as determined by the Administrative Director of the Courts, shall be resumed.

Deborah T. Poritz
Chief Justice

Dated: July 6, 2006

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Executive Order 17 Closes State Government

The link below for your records is the official copy of the governor’s Executive Order 17 which authorizes the shut down of non-essential state government operations indefinitely. Please maintain this copy as it may become important in the weeks and months following the resolution of the current budget dispute between the executive and legislative branches of our government. A copy will also be maintained permanently in the muni-mail archive.

Download a copy of the order.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

Shut Down of Judiciary Operations – Plan and Supreme Court Order

In order to comply with the governor’s order to shut down the operations of government pending the adoption of a new budget, the judiciary has published a “shut down plan” which is supported by an order from the Supreme Court. Apart from accessing accurate data from state computer systems, the operation of municipal courts are not affected by the order.

The shut down plan is reproduced here and a link to download the order follows.

FOR SHUTDOWN OF JUDICIARY OPERATIONS
[June 30, 2006]

1. Closings. The Supreme Court, the Superior Courts, the Appellate Division, the Tax Court, and all supporting operations of the state courts will be closed. Those courts and court offices will not be open to the public. In the event of a shutdown, staff and judges (with limited exceptions as noted below) will be notified not to report to work on Monday, July 3, 2006 and on subsequent days as necessary. Municipal courts and Surrogates’ Offices will remain open.

2. Emergent matters. Emergent court matters will be handled by the judges in each vicinage designated to hear such matters. Emergent duty judges will use such staff as they deem necessary for handling those limited emergent matters, with the approval of the Assignment Judge. Emergency matters would include but not be limited to medical emergencies, setting initial bail, detention orders and telephonic detention reviews, orders of involuntary commitment, and other matters within the discretion of the judge.

3. Child support. Preparation and timely distribution of child support checks requires a cooperative effort between the Judiciary and the Executive Branch. The Executive Branch will provide the staff necessary to complete its portion of the work; therefore, the Judiciary will also make necessary staff available to complete the process.

4. Domestic violence. Individuals seeking temporary restraining orders in domestic violence cases will be required to seek such relief from the appropriate Municipal Court.

5. Statutes of limitations. For those days that the courts are closed because of this shutdown, the Chief Justice will issue an order tolling the running of any statutes of limitations or any time periods set by the Rules of Court.

6. Computer Operations and Protection of Databases. The Administrative Director of the Courts will designate a limited number of staff at the central office to report to work during the shutdown for the purpose of preserving the integrity of the Judiciary’s computer system and databases and providing access to essential services remaining in operation.

7. Other Essential Support Services. The Administrative Director of the Courts will designate a limited number of staff at the central office and in the vicinages to report to work during the shutdown to ensure support for essential operations.

8. Notification to the public and employees. Information as to whether the state courts actually are closed on July 3 will be announced pursuant to existing procedures for notification of the public and court employees regarding court closings, which will include announcements on local radio stations and prominent posting of a notice on the Judiciary’s web site (www.njcourtsonline.com). Those announcements will be made/posted either before July 3 or as early that day as is possible. Additionally, Judiciary staff will be notified of such closure through existing emergency notification plans (e.g., telephone calling trees and lists). Employees unfamiliar with their local notification plans should check with their immediate supervisors. These notification procedures will be repeated for each day of the shutdown.

9. Distribution of this Plan. Copies of this Plan will be distributed to the Governor, the Attorney General, the State Public Defender, the Commissioner of Human Services, the Commissioner of Personnel, the Commissioner of Corrections, the State Treasurer, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, collective bargaining representatives of Judiciary employees, the President and Executive Director of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and the municipal courts. The Assignment Judges will distribute copies of this Plan to the County Prosecutors, Regional Public Defenders, Sheriffs, Surrogates, County Clerks, county jails, and county bar associations.

Download a copy of the order.

Category: Muni-Mail Archive

MVC Extends D/L, Registration & Inspection Deadlines Due to Shut Down

The Chief Commissioner of the Motor Vehicle Commission today released an administrative order that extends the terms of drivers’ licenses, registrations and inspections due to the shut down of state operations during the budget impasse. The contents of the order are as follows:

State of New Jersey
Motor Vehicle Commission
P.O. Box 160
Trenton, NJ
Contact: Mike Horan
609-292-4711
Dave Weinstein
609-777-3791
RELEASE: July 2, 2006

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER 2006-01

I, Sharon A. Harrington, Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, as authorized pursuant to The Motor Vehicle Security and Customer Service Act, N.J.S.A. 39:2A-1, et seq., by N.J.S.A. 39:2-3, by N.J.S.A. 39:3-4, and by N.J.S.A. 39:3-10f, and for good cause shown, do hereby order that in the event of an interruption in state government services, the renewal dates of drivers’ licenses, vehicle registrations and vehicle inspections shall be extended as set forth below:

1. Any person who is the holder of a valid New Jersey license to drive a motor vehicle that was due to expire June 30, 2006, but which was not renewed before July 1, 2006, may continue to exercise the privilege(s) therein conferred until July 31, 2006. Any person who is the holder of a valid New Jersey license to drive a motor vehicle which is due to expire July 31, 2006, but which is not renewed prior to August 1, 2006, may continue to exercise the privilege(s) therein conferred until August 31, 2006.

2. The renewal date of any New Jersey registration certificate, including any temporary registration certificate, that was due to expire June 30, 2006, but which was not renewed before July 1, 2006, is hereby extended until July 31, 2006. The renewal date of any New Jersey registration certificate, including any temporary registration certificate, that is due to expire July 31, 2006, but which is not renewed prior to August 1, 2006, is hereby extended until August 31, 2006. This provision of this Administrative Order shall not apply to extend the expiration date of any non-resident temporary registration issued pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:3-4b and N.J.A.C. 13:21-15.10.

3. The inspection date or re-inspection date for any vehicle that was due to expire on June 30, 2006, but which was not inspected or re-inspected before July 1, 2006, is hereby extended until July 31, 2006. The inspection date or re-inspection date of any vehicle that is due to expire on July 31, 2006, but which is not inspected or re-inspected prior to August 1, 2006, is hereby extended until August 31, 2006.

4. Nothing in this Administrative Order shall be construed as restoring the driving and/or registration privilege of any person subject to a valid Order of Suspension as of the date of this Order or any such suspension order subsequently imposed, and nothing in this Administrative Order shall be construed as permitting the operation of a motor vehicle without the automobile insurance required by law.

5. Nothing in this Order shall be construed as reducing the fees required to be paid upon renewal of a driver’s license, vehicle registration or upon inspection of a vehicle entitled to extension under the terms of this Order. This Order shall only take effect in the event of an interruption in state government services which results in the closure of Motor Vehicle Commission offices and agencies for any period of time.

Date: June 28, 2006
Sharon A. Harrington
Chief Administrator

Category: Muni-Mail Archive