State May Appeal an Improper Law Division Acquittal – State v Still (UNP)

The Appellate Division’s UNPUBLISHED decision in State v. Still involves a defective plea in municipal court to a violation of NJSA 39:4-97.2 (Unsafe Operation of a Motor Vehicle). After entering his plea, the defendant filed an appeal with the Law Division. The basis of the defendant’s appeal was that there was no factual basis entered in municipal court. The Law Division found the plea to be woefully inadequate. However, the Law Division judge then proceeded to find the defendant not guilty, without conducting a hearing on the merits or allowing the State a chance to put on its proofs. The Appellate Division reversed and held that the proper remedy is to vacate the plea and remand the matter to municipal court where the defendant may either re-plead guilty or have the matter decided on the merits.

Note one error in the opinion made by the Appellate Division. The panel complained that the defendant was not sworn in municipal court before entering his guilty plea. The Part VII Rules of Court do not require that a plea be taken under oath, unlike the procedure in the Superior Court under the Part III Rules.

Download a copy of State v. Still, an UNPUBLISHED opinion

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