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

Capitol Report

September 10, 2012

 

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. The government affairs department of the association compiles the report. 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.

 

Special Edition

This special edition of the Capitol Report is the sixth of a series of reports summarizing the progress of NJSBA priority legislation since the beginning of the current legislative session.

 

Judicial Administration

S-1145 (PDF) (Turner)/A-1424 (PDF) (Watson Coleman) (NJSBA opposes) Establishes Qua-Daishia's Law, which bars disclosure of personal identifying information contained in grand jury materials and creates the fourth-degree offense for unauthorized disclosure. This legislation originated in response to one notorious case where an attorney provided names and addresses of witnesses to his street-gang clients with knowledge of the consequences that would follow. Unfortunately the witnesses were retaliated against. Ostensibly, this bill would resolve this problem. However, there are many state laws to address this deplorable situation, among them conspiracy and accomplice liability to a number of crimes, including tampering with witnesses, hindering apprehension and prosecution, among others.

Status:
Both bills are pending review in the Senate Judiciary Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committees, respectively.

S-1769 (PDF) (Turner)/A-1444 (PDF) (Gusciora) (NJSBA opposes) Eliminates the award of attorneys' fees, filing fees and costs of suit for technical violation of the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA). The NJSBA opposes this legislation, believing the bill would contravene 37 years of sound legislative policy encouraging private enforcement of the CFA. It would create uncertainty (for both consumers and businesses) regarding what conduct and practices are truly prohibited by the CFA, and it is unnecessary to achieve its apparent purpose of discouraging litigation of harmless CFA violations given the act's requirement that a consumer suffer ascertainable loss caused by the violation in order to have standing to sue.

Status:
Both bills are pending review in the Senate Commerce Committee and Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

S-1863 (PDF) (Van Drew)/A-1566 (PDF) (Wisniewski) (NJSBA supports) Provides for appointment of certain municipal court judges at the local or county level. The NJSBA supports this bill because it would allow local officials, rather than the governor, to appoint judges for joint and central municipal court. It is believed that more municipalities would form joint courts if it did not result in the loss of local appointment power. This bill will encourage the creation of more joint courts and result in budgetary savings for municipalities.


Status: Both bills are pending review by the Senate Judiciary Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee, respectively.

LAND USE

 

A-1645 (PDF) (Coutinho) (NJSBA opposes) Allows for modifications to land use approvals because of changed economics. The NJSBA opposes this bill because it would effectively deregulate zoning by disengaging N.J.S.A. 40:55D-70 and the body of law interpreting this statute, which has served municipalities and developers alike for over half a century.

Status: The bill is pending review in the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAW

 

S-1206 (PDF) (Gill)/S-1285 (PDF) (Codey)/A-2865 (PDF) (McKeon) (NJSBA supports) Provides for state assumption of the costs of the county prosecutors' offices. The NJSBA initially opposed this legislation on the grounds that it might diminish the ability of the prosecutor offices to ensure the administration of criminal justice in New Jersey. The bill was subsequently amended to remove opposition. So long as the bill remains in this form, the NJSBA no longer opposes it.

Status:
The bills are pending review by the Senate Judiciary Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee, respectively.

A-1442 (PDF) (Gusciora) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes assessment of development impact fees by municipalities. The NJSBA opposes this bill because the legislation fails to provide a uniform and fair approach to impact fees since a municipality would be free to disregard the state guidelines, adopt its own impact fee ordinance, and still be entitled to a presumption of validity for its ordinance. The NJSBA believes that without such a mandatory review provision to establish uniformity, this legislation must be opposed.


Status:
The bill is pending review in the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

A-1678 (PDF) (Johnson) (NJSBA opposes) Requires three forms of identification when requesting a birth certificate. The NJSBA does not support creating additional obstacles to individual access to vital records because someone who needs his or her birth certificate, or a death certificate, may not have access to multiple identification documents due to destruction by fire or flood, flight from domestic violence, or any other number of scenarios.

Status:
The bill is pending review in the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.

A-1728 (PDF) (Green) (NJSBA opposes) Eliminates the Council on Affordable Housing. The NJSBA opposes this effort to enforce the constitutionally based Mount Laurel doctrine, which requires that New Jersey municipalities provide zoning allowing for the provision of their fair share of the regional need for low- and moderate-income housing, given the NJSBA’s belief that it has serious constitutional flaws, particularly in light of the Appellate Division's recent decision in In the Matter of N.J.A.C. 5:96 and 5:97, 2010 WL 4027722 (App. Div. 2010).

Status:
The bill is pending review in the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee.

 

MUNICIPAL COURT PRACTICE

 

S-110 (PDF) (Cardinale) Provides that requirements of implied consent statutes do not constitute an element of the offense of refusing the breath test. The NJSBA opposes this legislation, believing it is an attempt to reverse the New Jersey Supreme Court's correct decision in State v. Marquez, which required that a defendant needs to be informed of the consequences of refusing to submit to a breath sample before he or she may be charged and convicted of refusal under NJ.S.A. 39:4-50Aa. This amendment to the law would deny defendants due process, as required by the New Jersey Constitution, and would unnecessarily open the door to potential police misconduct by trapping the unsophisticated and potentially innocent driver who after being read their Miranda rights might not realize they did not have the right to refuse to submit to a breath test under the implied consent statute.

 

Status: The bill is pending review in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

 

S-359 (PDF) (Beach)/A-1225 (PDF) (Moriarty) (NJSBA opposes) Requires a breath or blood sample to be obtained from a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury. The NJSBA opposes this bill, which would permit a breath or blood sample to be taken without any probable cause or reasonable suspicion the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as is presently required by law. Moreover, the bill contravenes the probable cause requirement in a way that involves the most intrusive manner of extraction—the withdrawal of blood.

 

Status: Both bills are pending review in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee and Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, respectively.