Municipal Appeals – Changes to Court Rules

Two amendments to the Part III Rules of Court governing criminal procedure are of special interest to municipal court practitioners. Each becomes effective on September 1, 2004. Both of the amendments involve municipal appeals.

1. The Part VII rules allow for a number of post-conviction applications, such as post-conviction relief, motion to reconsider a sentence, motion for a new trial and the like. Each of these motions is invariably filed well after the normal 20-day appeal time limit from the date of conviction (sentence imposition). Rule 3:23-2 has now been amended to permit both the defense and the State the opportunity to appeal from a final post-judgment order rendered in municipal court within 20 days of the court’s decision. As a practical matter, this means that a right to appeal such post-judgment applications exists and must be filed within 20 days of the judge’s decision. In the case of a post-conviction relief application, the appeal may come many years after the date of conviction.

2. Rule 3:23-9 has been amended to the extent that a private attorney may now act as a prosecutor for the purposes of pursuing a municipal appeal. An attorney who desires to appear on behalf of the State must receive the permission of the prosecutor and the court based upon an (AOC form) certification and good cause shown. This new procedure expands the latitude given to private attorneys acting as municipal prosecutors under the procedures generally established by the Supreme Court in State v. Storm, 141 N.J. 245 (1995). As a practical matter, this amended Rule will permit a private attorney who prosecuted a matter in municipal court to represent the State when the defendant appeals the municipal court’s sentence or decision.

Download copies of both amended rules.

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