September 16, 2013
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 former Capitol Report, please visit our website at njsba.com.
RECENT AMICUS ACTIVITY
The NJSBA sometimes petitions the Court to participate in matters as amicus curiae in pending cases before New Jersey and federal courts where issues are believed to affect the legal profession or the system of justice.
State v. Chun 194 N.J. 54 (2008)
Supreme Court Docket No.: 73, 341
This case concerns the reliability of the Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C in the prosecution of driving under the influence cases. On Sept. 10, the Supreme Court heard oral argument on three separate motions pending before the Court relating to enforcement of the Court’s original decision and order in the matter. The New Jersey State Bar Association was represented by Jeffrey Gold, of Gold & Associates, who argued the Court should appoint a special master to oversee enforcement and implement the original court order as previously written.
For a copy of materials filed with the Court on this case, visit njsba.com.
RECENT GUBERNATORIAL ACTIVITY:
Below is a list of legislation recently signed into law by the governor:
P.L.2013, c.148 Prohibits relieving certain charges of employer unemployment insurance accounts. On June 24, the bill passed in the Assembly (78-0-0) and was sent to the governor, and on Aug. 19, the governor signed the bill into law. (S-2739 Madden/A-4187 Egan)
P.L.2013, c.153 Removes requirements for one- and two-family residences to be equipped with a portable fire extinguisher. On Aug. 19, the bill passed in the Senate (31-3) and was sent to the governor, and on Aug. 28, the governor signed the bill into law. (S-1829 Bucco/A-2596 Wisniewski)
P.L.2013, c.155 Prohibits the requirement to disclose user name, password, or other means for accessing an account or service through an electronic communications device by employers. (SUPPORT) On Aug. 19, the bill passed the Senate (36-0) and was sent to the governor, and on Aug. 28, the governor signed the bill into law. (S-1915 Sweeney/A-2878 Burzichelli)
The NJSBA Board of Trustees and Labor and Employer Law Section supported this legislation, believing it is necessary to protect the privacy rights of all employees in an emerging technologically connected era. Employees’ personal social network accounts contain personal information an employer is prohibited from asking about (i.e., marital status, religion, sexual orientation, etc.). Gaining access to this information through social media accounts could lead to discriminatory decisions during the hiring process. Additionally, the state bar believes this bill protects employees’ rights in the current job market. It ensures employees are not put in an unfair situation of being forced to give up their privacy rights in return for a certain job.
The state bar also believes the Legislature has already acknowledged that privacy rights have been eroded due to a lack of protection in the emerging technological age, and that it is imperative employees have a right to privacy in their personal social networking accounts and must be afforded the proper protection to ensure their privacy.
The NJSBA’s Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Municipal Court Practice Section supported this legislation, believing it will fix a longstanding inequity in the municipal court system. Presently, pre-trial intervention (PTI) is only allowed for indictable offenses. Therefore, for example, an individual charged with theft over $500 qualifies for PTI, which allows him or her to be diverted from the criminal system before conviction. However, if the theft charge is less than $500, the individual does not qualify for PTI because it is not indictable. In some instances, such as in the case of public employees, acceptance into PTI can preserve employment, while a conviction would mean the loss of employment. Thus, the NJSBA strongly supports creating an alternative such as conditional discharge to address these circumstances.
Below is a list of legislation recently vetoed by the governor:
A-3659 (Barnes) Revises the definition of destructive device to include weapons of 50 caliber or greater. On Sept. 9, Governor Chris Christie’s veto was received in the Assembly.
Elder and Disability Law
S-897 (Vitale) / A-2737(Coughlin)/A-2440 (Coughlin) Clarifies the intent of the Legislature to protect certain senior tenants, and aligns housing age restrictions with federal law. On Sept. 9, the governor conditionally vetoed this legislation.
Labor and Employment Law
S-2640 (Beck) / A-1273 (Coughlin) Requires the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) to provide certain information to participating public employers. On Sept. 9, the governor conditionally vetoed this legislation.
Consumer Protection Law
A-1740 (Prieto) Regulates certain service contracts to perform maintenance, repair, replacement, or service of property used for personal, family, or household purposes. On Sept. 9, the bill was amended on the Assembly floor and is awaiting Assembly vote.
A-4335 (Benson) Requires issue advocacy organization disclosure; increases disclosure of campaign finance information; raises the amount of money contributable to committees; modifies restrictions on contributions by certain business entities performing public contracts. On Sept. 9, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly State Government Committee.
NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER:
Below is an executive order issued by the governor's administration for the month of August:
Executive Order No. 138 (PDF) establishes the Pension Fraud and Abuse Unit within the Department of the Treasury. The governor issued this executive order on Aug. 7.