October 29, 2012
This is a status report provided by the New Jersey State Bar Association on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers, as well as the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. To obtain a complete copy of the Capitol Report and/or retrieve a previous Capitol Report, please visit our website at www.njsba.com.
ACTION IN TRENTON
A-1521 (Burzichelli) (NJSBA supports with amendments) Modifies the process for contested case hearings by the Office of Administrative Law with regard to telephone and video conferences, delegation of final decision authority, oral decisions, checklist decisions, electronic filings, and settlements. The NJSBA Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee, Elder and Disability Law Section, and Administrative Law Section reviewed this legislation and support empowering administrative law judges (ALJ) with authority to render a final decision, pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill was amended and is awaiting Assembly vote.
A-801 (Munoz) (NJSBA supports) Restricts access to motor vehicle accident reports under certain circumstances. The NJSBA Board of Trustees and its Ad Hoc Committee on Direct Solicitation voted to support this legislation because it offers a balanced approach to addressing problems associated with insurance fraud and direct solicitation by attorneys of clients involved in motor vehicle accidents. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill passed in the Assembly (73-4-1).
Consumer Protection Law
A-1513 (Burzichelli) (NJSBA supports with amendments) Establishes the Real Estate Installment Contract Act. The NJSBA Board of Trustees; Legislative Committee; and Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section cannot fully support the bill as written. The belief is that, if passed, the bill would create more problems than it purports to resolve. However, the bill would be more palatable with amendments that better define a “purchaser” and a “real estate installment contract.” On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill was amended and is awaiting Assembly vote.
Municipal Court Practice
A-1848 (Diegnan) (NJSBA supports) Imposes limits on fees charged for discovery in municipal court matters. The NJSBA Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee, Criminal Law Section, Consumer Protection Law Committee, and Municipal Court Practice Section voted to support this legislation based upon statewide findings that problems exist with disparate municipal court discovery costs. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill passed in the Assembly (79-0-0).
Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
A-1551 (Wisniewski) (NJSBA supports) Concerns time frames for establishing or enforcing property rights related to adverse possession or other matters. The NJSBA Board of Trustees; Legislative Committee; and Real Property Trust and Estate Law Section support this bill with amendments, which addresses a conflict between New Jersey’s 20-year statute of limitations and the 30 years of possession required for title to vest through adverse possession. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill was amended and is awaiting Assembly vote.
ON THE GOVERNOR’S DESK
S-599 (Beck) Creates Tara's Law; provides protections for individuals with developmental disabilities residing in community care residences and for investigations of abuse of individuals with developmental disabilities. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill passed in the Assembly (79-0-0) and was sent to the governor.
S-2135 (Gill) Creates the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill passed in the Assembly (44-33-2) and was sent to the governor.
A-1688 (Russo) Prohibits public institutions of higher education from permitting direct solicitation of students for credit card accounts. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill passed in the Assembly (73-1-5).
A-1711 (Green) Increases penalties for failing to secure a child in a child passenger restraint system or booster seat while operating a motor vehicle. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill passed in the Assembly (63-16-0).
A-2131 (Burzichelli) Authorizes the release of sex offender registration information to the Department of Human Services and county welfare agencies. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill was amended and is awaiting Assembly vote.
A-2919 (Fuentes) Creates the New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill was amended and is awaiting Assembly vote.
Elder and Disability Law
A-3409 (Schaer) Prohibits Medicaid managed care organizations from reducing provider reimbursement rates without approval from the Department of Human Services. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill was introduced and referred to Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.
A-711 (Ramos) Requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), in consultation with the Department of Community Affairs, to adopt certain rules and regulations concerning blue roofs and green roofs, and provides for priority consideration by the DEP for related permits and other authorizations. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill was amended and is awaiting Assembly vote.
A-735 (Eustace) Permits a child who moves out of a school district due to a family crisis to remain enrolled in that district until the end of the school year. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill was released from the Assembly Education Committee and is awaiting Assembly vote.
Municipal Court Practice
A-2416 (Eustace) Encourages development of electric vehicle charging stations in transportation projects. On Oct. 18, 2012, the bill passed in the Assembly (57-18-4).
Following is an update on certain cases pending in the New Jersey Supreme Court or other appellate courts in which the NJSBA is participating as an amicus party.
In the Matter of Sean Alden Smith, an Attorney at Law, Docket No. 070529 D-98-11: This case questions whether the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) has authority to order diversion during the post-complaint stage of a disciplinary proceeding. On Oct. 23, David Dugan argued on behalf of the NJSBA in favor of permitting the DRB to order diversion during the post-complaint stage of a disciplinary proceeding, and urged the Court to amend the Court Rules to eliminate the requirement that an attorney admit to ethical wrongdoing before diversion is permitted and provide the DRB with the authority to review decisions where diversion is denied.
Petition for Review of the Letter Decision of the Committee on Attorney Advertising, Docket No. 47 2007, Docket No. 62,134: At issue in the case is whether a mediation center that employs attorneys who also perform legal services can use the name “Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation” followed by the name of the attorney who is the managing partner, consistent with RPC 7.1 and RPC 7.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. On Oct. 10, David B. Rubin presented oral argument on behalf of the NJSBA, arguing against permitting attorneys to use trade names as their official firm designations and in favor of retaining the current rules governing law firm names.
Prime Accounting Dep't v. Township of Carney's Point, Docket No. 68,380: At issue in the case is whether a complaint to challenge a tax assessment that did not correctly identify the taxpayer and instead named a former tenant's accounting department, which never owned or leased the property but was listed on the municipal tax bill, should be dismissed for lack of standing, or whether the complaint should be permitted to be amended. On Sept. 24, Susan A. Feeney presented oral argument on behalf of the NJSBA, arguing in favor of allowing attorneys to rely on municipal tax records in preparing tax appeal complaints and urging the Court to permit the complaint in this case to be amended.
Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Docket No. 11-4283-cv (pending in the Second Circuit): At issue in the case is whether a New York statute requiring non-resident attorneys to maintain an office in the state is unconstitutional. On Oct. 2, oral argument was heard in the Second Circuit. David B. Rubin drafted the NJSBA’s brief in the matter, providing the Court with the history and background of New Jersey’s bona fide office rule and advocating for a change to New York’s statute.
State v. Cahill, Docket No. 68,727: At issue in the case is whether the defendant’s motor vehicle violations were properly dismissed on the basis that he was denied a speedy trial. On Oct. 10, Jeffrey Evan Gold presented oral argument on behalf of the NJSBA urging the Court to find in favor of the defendant and to provide guidance on the issue of speedy trials in the context of driving under the influence violations.