New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

Capitol Report

June 28, 2010

This is a status report on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers. The report may also include information about appearances of NJSBA representatives before legislative committees, and the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. It is compiled by the government affairs department of the New Jersey State Bar Association. Following each bill number is the sponsor's name, the NJSBA position, if any, bill description and status. Full and previous versions of the Capitol Report with links to related text are available online at www.njsba.com.

Executive Orders

Executive Order No. 32 Modifies Executive Order No. 36 (2006), which established a judicial advisory panel to review the background and abilities of potential nominees to the judiciary. Formerly, under E.O. No. 36, the panel was to be comprised of up to seven members, including five or more retired judges, and could also include up to two members of the public who are either non-lawyers or non-practicing lawyers. Because practicing attorneys participate in the review conducted by the New Jersey State Bar Association, they were not being asked to serve on the panel. Now, under the current E.O. No. 32, the panel will be comprised of seven members, to include no fewer than three former judges, and the panel may include practicing attorneys, but only those who do not serve concurrently as a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association's Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee. The governor will designate the chair, who will be responsible for the overall administration of the panel's responsibilities and establishing its procedures for candidate evaluation.

NJSBA  Action in Trenton

A-2807 (Conaway) (NJSBA opposes) The NJSBA expressed its opposition on this bill, which extends Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Premium Assistance Fund and collection of annual surcharges for five years. The surcharges apply to all employers subject to the "unemployment compensation law," ($3 per employee each year), and to practicing physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, dentists, optometrists, and attorneys licensed in this state ($75 each year). The NJSBA strongly opposes this bill because it is fundamentally unfair to tax thousands of lawyers in New Jersey who do not practice in the medical malpractice area to pay for harm caused by negligent doctors. On June 17, the bill was released from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee with amendments and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-559 (Cryan) (NJSBA supports) The NJSBA communicated its support of this legislation, which decreases the fees set for copies of documents in various parts of the New Jersey statutes relating to government entities, excluding the court system. On June 21, the bill was amended on the Assembly floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.

A-2473 (Schaer) (NJSBA opposes) The NJSBA communicated its opposition to this bill, which limits the amount of appeal bond in civil actions to the total value of the monetary judgment or $50 million, whichever is less. The NJSBA opposes this bill because it believes the current Court Rules, 2:9-5 and 6, as interpreted in New Jersey case law, provide adequate protection to all parties. On June 17, the bill was released from the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.

Pending Legislation

Administrative Law

A-2722 (Burzichelli) (Under review by the NJSBA) This bill makes various changes to the process used for the contested case hearings handled by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL), some of which were included in the report of the Red Tape Review Group titled "Findings & Recommendations," issued April 19, 2010. The Red Tape Review Group is a bipartisan body with representatives from both the legislative and executive branches of state government. The group was ordered and directed by Governor Chris Christie with Executive Order No. 3, and empowered to review all pending and proposed rules and regulations frozen under Executive Order No. 1, as well as all operative executive orders from previous administrations.

The bill provides that administrative law judges may: use pre-hearing conferences, and consider motions and hear witness testimony by means of telephone or video conference calls; issue oral decisions in certain appropriate contested cases if one of the parties orders a transcript of the proceedings and the state agency does not request a written decision; and issue decisions in the form of a checklist in certain appropriate contested cases, after consultation with each state agency. On June 17, the bill was released from the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee with amendments, and is awaiting Assembly vote.

Consumer Protection

A-1233 Stender (NJSBA takes no position) This bill requires magazine distributors and solicitors of magazine subscription sales to disclose information concerning when a current subscription expires in certain communications with the consumer. Under the bill, persons distributing magazines through the mail by subscription, for delivery in New Jersey, must disclose in a clear and conspicuous manner on each magazine mailing label the month and year the subscription expires. The bill specifies that the month must be written out in a non-numerical, non-abbreviated format. On June 21, the bill passed in the Assembly (69-11).

School Law

A-2948 (Voss) (NJSBA opposes) This bill provides that if the Department of Education finds a school district expenditure of public funds for legal fees was a non-allowable cost and subsequently reduces state aid to the district as a result of that finding, the law firm that was the recipient of the legal fees will be required to refund to the district the total amount of non-allowable costs for legal services identified by the department. Under the provisions of the bill, the department will maintain a list of law firms that have not refunded monies to districts as required under the provisions of the bill, and all school districts will be prohibited from contracting for the legal services of law firms on the list. A "law firm" is defined as a lawyer or lawyers in a law partnership, professional corporation, sole proprietorship or other association authorized to practice law. On June 17, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Education Committee.

Nominations

The following nominations were referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21:

JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Mitchel Ostrer, of Princeton, NJSBA member
Diane Pincus, of North Brunswick
Joseph Rea, of Piscataway

JUDGE OF THE TAX COURT
Christine Nugent, of Westfield, NJSBA member

The following nominations were reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 21:

JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT
Joseph Charles, of Jersey City
Bernadette DeCastro, of Watchung, NJSBA member
Mitchel Ostrer, of Princeton, NJSBA member
Diane Pincus, of North Brunswick.
Joseph Rea, of Piscataway
Raymond Reddin, of Totowa

NEW JERSEY ELECTION LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMISSION
Ronald Defilippis, of Succasunna

COMMISSIONER OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Allison M. Blake, of Raritan Township

DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF BANKING
Garret Komjathy, of Middletown

Public Notices

NJSBA Chair Orientation and Legislative Forum

On Thursday, July 15, NJSBA will host the annual Chair Orientation and Legislative Forum. This is an important opportunity to learn about the NJSBA's advocacy program. The legislative portion of the program will begin at 11:30 a.m., and is intended for section and committee chairs/legislative coordinators and county bar legislative chairs. The presentation will include comments by NJSBA Legislative Committee Chair Gerald Baker, Vice Chair Fruqan Mouzon, Joseph Simonetta of Public Strategies Impact, NJSBA Director of Government Affairs Todd Sidor and Legislative Administrator Tamika Wilson.

At this program you will learn:

  • how to submit comments on legislation
  • how to draft bill amendments
  • how to determine when a bill is expected to move in the Legislature
  • how to complete the legislative position form
  • how to get involved in the NJSBA's advocacy program-NJSBA Day in Trenton and ABA Lobby Day
  • the role of the NJSBA Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and sections and committees in formulating legislative policy
  • the NJSBA procedures and policies on legislation and regulation
  • how to testify on legislation

Many other items of interest will be covered. Refreshments will be served. Register today at www.njsba.com.

New Jersey Law Revision Commission

The NJLRC met on Thursday June 17 to discuss the following agenda:

  1. Title 9 Custody - Consideration of a draft final report on the custody chapter.
  2. Landlord Tenant - Consideration of a revised draft report on the relationship of landlord and tenant chapter.
  3. N.J.S. 48:2-27 Extension of Facilities - Consideration of a revised memorandum proposing commission action to make a very limited change to a section of the statute in response to court decisions interpreting that section.
  4. N.J.S. 54:3-27 Payment of Tax Pending Appeal - Consideration of a revised memorandum proposing commission action to modify an ambiguous section of the statute in response to a court decision interpreting that section.
  5. N.J.S. 18A:39-1 Transportation of Pupils - Consideration of a memorandum outlining options for revisions of N.J.S. 18A:39-1.
  6. Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act - Consideration of a new project on the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act.

Note: "Under review by the NJSBA" means that the bill is currently being examined by NJSBA sections, committees and/or Board of Trustees and a final position has not yet been reached on the measure.