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Monday, May 29, 2017

DCPP VS. J.E.C. I/M/O THE GUARDIANSHIP OF C.I.B. A-2565-15T2


 DCPP VS. J.E.C. I/M/O THE GUARDIANSHIP OF C.I.B. 
A-2565-15T2 
As a matter of first impression, the court concludes that the special evidentiary provision codified at N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.46(a)(4), allowing the admission of corroborated hearsay statements by children, applies only in abuse or neglect cases litigated under Title 9, and does not extend to guardianship cases litigated under Title 30 that seek the termination of a parent's rights. 
Despite indicia of contrary customs, the court concludes that the plain meaning of N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.46(a)(4) confines its application to "hearings under this act," i.e. Title 9 proceedings. In addition, the court's statutory construction is supported by the legislative history and the significant differences between Title 9 cases and Title 30 termination cases with respect to, among other things, the comparative stakes involved for a defendant and the higher burden of proof required to justify the permanent termination of a parent's rights. 

The Legislature remains free to amend Title 30 to extend this special hearsay exception to termination cases, upon considering