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

Capitol Report

September 23, 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 www.njsba.com

NJSBA RECENT ACTION IN TRENTON

Animal Law

S-2989 (Kean) (NJSBA supports) Establishes the crimes of dog fighting and leader of a dog fighting network; amends the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to add leader of a dog fighting network. On Sept. 12, 2013, this bill was proposed for introduction.

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Animal Law Section all voted to support this legislation with amendments, believing it will strengthen animal protection laws, provide additional means with which prosecutors may pursue perpetrators and assist attorneys who represent clients and animal organizations with the victims of animal cruelty.

The NJSBA believes animal fighting or baiting is a serious criminal enterprise, rife with violence and cruelty, and that the passage of A-2379 will be critical in providing the means with which to improve the welfare of both animals and humans affected by animal fighting and aid in severely punishing the perpetrators of this criminal enterprise. Animal fighting and baiting has been found to be closely connected to other crimes, including illegal drugs and weapons, gambling, aggravated assaults and gang violence. This bill allows prosecutors to use the RICO Act to aid in pursuing additional charges to animal fighting and thus better protect the victims of these criminal acts.

Family Law

S-2994 (Van Drew) (NJSBA supports) Establishes the New Jersey Task Force on Domestic Violence and Abuse. On Sept. 12, 2013, this bill was proposed for introduction. 

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Family Law Section all voted to support the creation of the task force provided that at least one member is a licensed New Jersey attorney who routinely handles domestic violence matters.

Judicial Administration

S-1219 (Codey) (NJSBA supports) Increases compensation for wrongful imprisonment. On Sept. 12, 2013, the bill passed (36-1) in the Senate concurring with the governor’s recommendations.

The New Jersey State Bar Association Board of Trustees, Legislative Committee and Criminal Law Section all voted to support this legislation, believing there are many cases where people are wrongfully imprisoned because of false evidence and other factors. In the NJSBA’s opinion, the original $20,000 compensation figure does not begin to compensate someone for their life. The increase to $50,000 compensation is strongly supported by the state bar with the understanding that wrongfully imprisoned individuals always have a civil suit remedy, which would be far more in recovery than that specified in the statute.

PENDING LEGISLATION

Local Government Law

S-2954 (Beck) Establishes best practices for procurement and payment of legal services by local governments and school districts. On Sept. 12, 2013, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

Family Law

S-2961 (Beach) Creates the motor vehicle offense of smoking in a motor vehicle with a child present and dedicates penalties to the Smoking Cessation Fund. On Sept. 12, 2013, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

NEW JERSEY LAW REVISION COMMISSION

The New Jersey Law Revision Commission met on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, and went over the following:

1. Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts—Consideration of a revised draft tentative report, including modifications to the uniform act in response to New Jersey practice and comments received.

2. Special Election Committee—Consideration of a memorandum proposing modifications of N.J.S. 40A:4-45.14 in response to the decision in Roseff et. al. v. Byram Township, et. al., 2013 WL 3849886 at *8 (App. Div. July 10, 2013) to eliminate language characterized as having “no discernible meaning” by the Appellate Division.

3. New Jersey AIDS Assistance Act—Consideration of a memorandum proposing modifications of N.J.S. 26:SC-9 in response to the decision in State of New Jersey v. C.M., 2013 WL 3582074 (App. Div. 2013) to clarify the application of the statute in criminal prosecutions.

4. Mortgage Recording—Consideration of a draft final report regarding a limited solution to the problems concerning foreclosures and satisfaction of mortgages.

5. New Jersey Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act—Consideration of a draft final report recommending enactment of the uniform act with modifications to reflect existing New Jersey law. 

For more information, please visit http://www.njleg.org.

ATTORNEY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED 

The New Jersey State Bar Association’s Military Legal Assistance Program provides free legal advice to veterans who encounter legal issues before their deployment or upon their return home. Members of the military who have served in active duty or in the reserve units can receive assistance with family law matters, debtor-creditor issues and employment law matters. 

Any attorney who annually volunteers 25 or more hours of pro bono service can earn a Madden exemption. To find out more please visit the state bar’s website at www.njsba.com or email mlap@njsba.com