Monthly Archives: June 2007
In this morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Franchetta, the Court ruled that the hangover effect from cocaine use can impair a driver to a sufficient degree to support a finding of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
Download a copy of State v. Franchetta.
In this morning’s Appellate Division holding in Podias v. Maiers, the Court ruled that the passengers in a motor vehicle that was operated by a person whom they knew to be intoxicated had an affirmative duty to come to the aid of a motorist who was severely injured in an accident and ultimately killed when he was struck by a second vehicle.
The accident which gave rise to this case occurred on the Garden State Parkway when a motor vehicle operated by a legally intoxicated 18 year-old driver struck a person on a motorcycle. The intoxicated driver and two passengers got out of their car and looked at the victim. Thinking he had been killed, the driver and passengers abandoned the victim on the highway and fled the scene. The victim was subsequently struck by a second car and killed. Significantly, both the passengers and the intoxicated driver had cell phones from which they made numerous calls following the accident, none of which involved getting help for the victim. Their main goals following the accident were to avoid apprehension and involvement.
The Appellate Division held that New Jersey law imposes an affirmative duty on passengers in a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver to come to the aid of a person who has been injured by the driver. Such individuals may be civilly liable to the victim or his estate if his death has been proximately caused by the breach of this duty to provide aid.
Download a copy of Podias v. Mairs.
In today’s United States Supreme Court ruling in Brendlin v. California, Justice Souter, writing for the Court, held that when the police effect a motor vehicle stop, the driver as well as all the vehicle’s occupants have been “seized” within the meaning of the 4th Amendment. As a practical matter, this means that a passenger can maintain a motion to suppress evidence based upon a claimed violation of his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Download a copy of Brendlin v. California.
By letter dated May 31st, Justice Rivera-Soto has offered his apology to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct (ACJC) and has waived his right to have a formal hearing on the judicial ethics complaint that has been filed against him. In addition, the Justice has submitted a stipulation of facts that will be used by the ACJC in order to determine whether a formal presentment will be filed and referred to the Supreme Court for final discipline.
Download a copy of Justice Rivera-Soto’s letter and stipulation.
The Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct (ACJC) has issued a presentment charging former municipal court judge Gerald Gordon (New Brunswick Municipal Court) with a variety of violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The ACJC has recommended that the Supreme Court impose a reprimand, although the committee noted that had the respondent judge still been on the bench, it would have sought significantly more severe discipline.
Among the violations the ACJC found to have been proved involved:
1) exhibiting impermissible bias by equating illegal immigrants in New Brunswick with terrorists,
2) throwing an indigent defendant into jail on a trumped-up charge of contempt of court related to non-payment of a fine;
3) depriving the same defendant of his constitutional rights to notice, a hearing and counsel;
4) fining a second defendant on a trumped up contempt of court charge when no contempt had occurred;
5) violating an Administrative Directive prohibiting such judicial actions; and
6) ordering a member of his court staff to fax a notice to the Motor Vehicle Commission to restore his driving privileges after they had been suspended (by his own court) for failing to resolve a parking ticket pending in his own court.
The respondent will have an opportunity to contest the ACJC’s factual findings and recommended quantum of discipline on a de novo basis before the Supreme Court.
Download a copy of the presentment in In re Gordon.