Late last week, the State Supreme Court issued a notice that it would be conducting hearings and seeking public feedback on a proposal to dismiss older, pending, minor municipal court matters. The notice comes on the heels of the recently released Report on Municipal Courts, which included among others, a recommendation to develop a process for the dismissal of old municipal complaints.
As explained in the Court’s notice, more serious matters would not be considered for dismissal, regardless of the age of the matter. These more serious matters include: indictable charges, disorderly persons charges, petty disorderly persons charges, and certain motor vehicle charges such as driving while intoxicated, drugs in motor vehicle, reckless driving, and passing a stopped school bus, just to name a few. A full list of the motor vehicle charges not included for potential dismissal is available within the Court’s Notice.
The Court has appointed three Superior Court Assignment Judges to act as a three-judge panel and tasked them with conducting a series of hearings in the northern, central, and southern parts of the State with the goal of determining why minor municipal court complaints pending for more than 15 years should not be dismissed. Notice of the hearing dates will be provided to the League and others, as well as to individual municipalities to be affected by such an order. And, at least 60 days prior to the hearing dates, the Panel will make available a list of cases to potentially be dismissed within each municipality. All interested parties are able to participate in the hearings but must submit in writing their position prior to the public hearing dates.
At the conclusion of all the hearings, the Panel will issue a report to the Supreme Court that will include a recommendation for the general disposition of older, pending, minor municipal court matters. The report will also, if necessary, recommend a process and time frame to raise challenges to the dismissal of individual complaints against specific defendants.
You should review this matter with your municipal prosecutor and municipal court administrator for more information and the potential impact the dismissal of these complaints would have on your municipality. The League will keep our members updated on this matter and will alert you once hearings have been scheduled.
Contact: Frank Marshall, Esq., League Staff Attorney, FMarshall@njslom.org, 609-695-3481, ext. 137.