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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hina K. Patel v. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission

10-14-08
A-2911-07T1

New Jersey's unsafe driving statute, N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.2,
provides that the Motor Vehicle Commission shall assess the
driver points for a third or subsequent offense. The statute
also affords relief from the assessment of points when an
offense is committed more than five years after a prior offense.
In this appeal, we have construed that language to apply only to
offenses that occur after the third offense.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lawrence DeNike v. Michael Cupo

9-24-08
A-61-07

Judges must avoid actual conflicts as well as the appearance of
impropriety to promote confidence in the integrity and
impartiality of the Judiciary. Unfortunately, the negotiations
between trial judge and lawyer in this case created an
appearance of impropriety. Stated simply, the conduct here fell
short of the high standards demanded of judges and fellow
members of the legal profession and had the capacity to erode
the public’s trust. Because any lesser remedy would allow
reasonable doubts to linger about the fairness of the outcome of
the case, the judgment of the Appellate Division is reversed and the matter is remanded for a new trial.

Phoenix Funding, Inc. v. Shartane and Robert Krute

10-10-08
A-1706-07T3

This case involves the Tax Sale Law, N.J.S.A. 54:5-1 to -
137. We consider whether a person who acquires an interest in
property that is the subject of an action to foreclose a tax
sale certificate may redeem without intervening in the
proceeding if the person has a "close personal relationship"
with the property owner. We conclude that N.J.S.A. 54:5-98,
N.J.S.A. 54:5-89.1 and Rule 4:64-6(b) require intervention.

State of New Jersey v. Anthony Alexander

10-10-08
A-6333-06T4

In this appeal, the court reversed the denial of postconviction
relief because trial counsel's representation of both
defendant and another individual, who allegedly participated in
crimes with defendant, placed counsel in a per se conflict of
interest. The court held that because the conflict arose
between the entry of a guilty plea but before sentencing, there
was no cause to disturb the plea, but that defendant was
entitled to be resentenced following a determination of what
might have occurred had defendant sought to cooperate with law
enforcement regarding his alleged cohort.

Francis and Aniela Sullivan v. Coverings & Installation, Inc., Frank F. Setola, and Cheryl A. Setola

10-08-08
A-6025-06T1

We held that plaintiffs were not required to establish
"good cause" for reinstatement of their complaint, which was
dismissed without prejudice for failure to permit defendants to
inspect their residence. Rule 4:23-5(a)(1) expressly permits a
party whose complaint has been dismissed without prejudice to
move, on notice, to vacate the dismissal at any time before the
entry of an order dismissing the complaint with prejudice. Because defendants never moved to dismiss the complaint with prejudice under Rule 4:23-5(a)(2), plaintiffs' complaint remained dismissed without prejudice. Consequently, when
plaintiffs moved to reinstate their complaint nearly one year
later, the court's inquiry was limited to determining whether
(1) the discovery violation resulting in the dismissal had been
cured, (2) the restoration fee had been paid, and (3) what, if
any, sanctions, counsel fees and costs, or both, should be
imposed as a condition of restoration.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Randy Senna V. Walter Florimont, et al.

(A-35-07)
9/22/08

Based on the content, form, and context of the challenged
speech, including the identity of the speaker and the intended
audience, the speech involved here did not touch on matters of
public concern. The false and defamatory statements of
defendants’ employees, impugning the honesty of a business
competitor, fall into the category of commercial speech that is
not entitled to heightened protection. The negligence standard
is the appropriate standard of care.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Zagami, LLC, d/b/a The Landmark American Tap and Grill, d/b/a Landmark Liquors v. Mary Ann Cottrell, et. al.

10/03/08
A-3948-07T3/A-4227-07T3 (consolidated)

We held that the defendants in this defamation action
brought by the owner of a bar are accorded absolute immunity,
under the litigation privilege, for oral and written statements
they made objecting to, and in connection with, the plaintiff's
municipal liquor license renewal proceeding. In extending the
privilege to these allegedly defaming defendants, we found the
administrative proceeding with its attendant safeguards of
notice, hearing, neutrality, availability of review on appeal,
and presence of retarding influences, sufficiently similar to
strictly judicial proceedings so as to protect the allegedly
defamed party from false or malicious charges and therefore
accord participants therein the same mantle of protection.