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Sunday, January 21, 2018

STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. DAKEVIS A. STEWART A-0562-17T6


 STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. DAKEVIS A. STEWART 
A-0562-17T6 
At a detention hearing held pursuant to the Criminal Justice Reform Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:162-15 to 2A:162-26 (the CJRA), the State proceeded by proffer. Defendant subpoenaed the police officer, who prepared the affidavit of probable cause as a witness, and sought to subpoena other officers. Over the State's objection, the judge entered an order that permitted defendant "to subpoena the [police] officers at the scene of the incident to testify at the [d]etention [h]earing." The court granted the State's motion for leave to appeal and reversed. 
The CJRA provides that at a pretrial detention hearing, a "defendant has the right to be represented by counsel, and . . . shall be afforded an opportunity to testify, to present witnesses, to cross-examine witnesses who appear at the hearing, and to present information by proffer or otherwise." N.J.S.A. 2A:162-19(e)(1) (emphasis added). However, federal courts interpreting the Bail Reform Act that contains similar language have recognized the defendant's right to produce adverse witnesses is conditional, not absolute. 

The court adopts the reasoning of the majority of federal courts, which require a defendant make a proffer as to how the anticipated testimony of an adverse witness, i.e., police officers, victims, and State's witnesses, would 1) negate the State's evidence as to probable cause; or 2) rebut or diminish the State's proffered clear and convincing evidence supporting detention. 

A.E.C. VS. P.S.C., IN THE MATTER OF J.S.E. A-1290-16T4


 A.E.C. VS. P.S.C., IN THE MATTER OF J.S.E. 
A-1290-16T4 
Following O.Y.C.P. v. J.C.P., 442 N.J. Super. 625 (App. Div. 2015), the court further addressed the Family Part's jurisdiction over person between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one who apply to the Family Part for predicate findings in special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) cases. In this case, the court addressed the Family Part's jurisdiction to grant an application for child custody, made in connection with an SIJ-related application. The court held that, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:17B-3, the Family Part has jurisdiction to grant a parent custody of an unemancipated child who is over eighteen, but under twenty-one, and to issue a 

declaratory ruling that the child is dependent on the parent and is not emancipated. 

NEWTON MEDICAL CENTER VS. D.B. A-5101-15T4

NEWTON MEDICAL CENTER VS. D.B. 
A-5101-15T4 
In this appeal, this court was asked to determine whether a patient who requires emergent psychiatric treatment, resulting in his involuntary commitment to a hospital, should be treated differently for charity care purposes than a patient who suffers a physical injury or illness. This issue of first impression arose from a dispute regarding a hospital's attempt to recover payment from an indigent mental health patient, who was involuntarily committed to its facility after being screened by a psychiatric emergency screening service, when the hospital followed the charity care procedures applicable to a non-emergent admission instead of those applicable to an admission through the hospital's emergency room. The trial court determined on summary judgment that the procedures governing a regular admission applied, and the hospital was entitled to recover from the patient based on a theory of quasi-contract. 

This court reversed, holding that when a mental health patient is admitted to a hospital on an emergent basis through the referral of a psychiatric emergency screening service, the provisions of the charity care regulations dealing with emergency room admissions applied. 

NEWTON MEDICAL CENTER VS. D.B. A-5101-15T4

NEWTON MEDICAL CENTER VS. D.B. 
A-5101-15T4 
In this appeal, this court was asked to determine whether a patient who requires emergent psychiatric treatment, resulting in his involuntary commitment to a hospital, should be treated differently for charity care purposes than a patient who suffers a physical injury or illness. This issue of first impression arose from a dispute regarding a hospital's attempt to recover payment from an indigent mental health patient, who was involuntarily committed to its facility after being screened by a psychiatric emergency screening service, when the hospital followed the charity care procedures applicable to a non-emergent admission instead of those applicable to an admission through the hospital's emergency room. The trial court determined on summary judgment that the procedures governing a regular admission applied, and the hospital was entitled to recover from the patient based on a theory of quasi-contract. 

This court reversed, holding that when a mental health patient is admitted to a hospital on an emergent basis through the referral of a psychiatric emergency screening service, the provisions of the charity care regulations dealing with emergency room admissions applied. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

LECHLER VS. 303 SUNSET AVENUE CONDO ASSOC., ASSOCIATION, INC. A-1095-16T3


 THOMAS G. LECHLER VS. 303 SUNSET AVENUE CONDO ASSOC., 
ASSOCIATION, INC. 
A-1095-16T3 

In this premises liability case, we reverse a Law Division order granting a directed verdict to defendants, a condominium association and its property manager, and dismissing with prejudice the negligence claim of plaintiff, a condominium resident. We hold that the association had a statutory duty to maintain the common areas, including a duty to identify and correct dangerous conditions, and that duty extended to residents of the condominium building, regardless of their characterization as licensees or invitees. While the condominium association has a statutory right to adopt a by-law precluding residents from suing the association for negligence, the association did not adopt such a by-law. Because plaintiff's evidence, if credited by the jury, established a prima facie case of negligence, we reverse and remand for a new trial. 

WATSON VS. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY A-5627-15T4


 JOHN WATSON VS. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY 
A-5627-15T4 
Plaintiff appealed the dismissal of his complaint under N.J.S.A. 52:4C-1, the Mistaken Imprisonment Act. Plaintiff was convicted in 1988 of possession of cocaine and weapons. He served five and one half years and was released from prison in 1996. In April 1999, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General issued a report acknowledging the State Police's use of racial profiling on the Turnpike from 1988 to 1999 and in 2000, agreed to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for certain cases. 
In November 2011, plaintiff was convicted in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for another narcotics offense and sentenced to thirty years. The federal court used plaintiff's New Jersey convictions to enhance his federal sentence because he qualified as a three-strike "career offender". 
On May 2, 2014, the New Jersey court consented to order vacating defendant's 1988 New Jersey conviction because it was subject to inclusion in the aforementioned State Police racial profiling consent order. In light of the vacated conviction, the federal court resentenced plaintiff to a shorter term as he no longer qualified as a "career offender." Plaintiff filed suit under the Act on April 27, 2016. 
The trial judge dismissed plaintiff's complaint. The panel affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint because the plain language of N.J.S.A. 52:4C-4 identifies two triggering events from 

which to calculate the two-year statute of limitations: release from imprisonment or a pardon. Because plaintiff's complaint was filed beyond the two years after his release from prison in New Jersey and the vacatur of his conviction was not a pardon, his complaint was not timely filed. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

NANCY JACOBS VS. JERSEY CENTRAL POWER & LIGHT COMPANY A-0255-16T3


 NANCY JACOBS VS. JERSEY CENTRAL POWER & LIGHT COMPANY 
A-0255-16T3 
After a streetlight fell on the corner of plaintiff's property, an employee of the defendant electric company disconnected the power, removed the light pole, pushed the wires into a hole in the ground, and covered the hole with dirt. He placed over the hole an orange safety cone, which disappeared within a few days. White markings painted by the hole faded in the ensuing weeks. 

Nearly two months later, plaintiff inadvertently stepped into the hole and injured herself, resulting in lumbar and knee surgeries. She brought a negligence case against the utility for creating and failing to timely repair a dangerous condition. A jury found the utility primarily at fault in causing the accident. It awarded plaintiff damages, which were reduced by her own percentage of fault. The utility appeals and asserts multiple trial errors.