NEW JERSEY LAWYER

DAILY BRIEFING      08/02/2005


News Briefs

NEW JERSEY’S JOHN’S LAW GETS NATIONAL BOOST
Much like New Jersey’s Megan’s Law a decade ago set a national trend of sex-offender registration laws, the state legislature may have launched another trend with John’s Law. The federal transportation bill recently approved by Congress provides grants to states to enact their own version of John’s Law, which authorizes police to impound the vehicle of someone arrested for drunken driving. That law here was enacted in 2001 after John Elliott was killed in a Pittsgrove car crash by a drunken driver who had been arrested earlier that evening, then released. Elliott had recently graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. 8-1-05

REACHING OUT TO JAILED IMMIGRANTS AWAITING DEPORTATION
With reason to suspect that large numbers of immigrants are in New Jersey jails awaiting deportation, the Legal Aid Society of New York is visiting jails here to advise detainees of their rights. “It makes the difference in these cases between winning and losing,” said society attorney Bryan Lonegan of a program that includes group seminars followed by individual consultations at county jails. The Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank in Washington, estimates 20,000 immigrants await deportation in U.S. jails. Although it didn’t provide individual state numbers, it cited 2000 Census data showing New Jersey’s 651,019 foreign-born residents comprised 3.8 percent of the nation’s total 16.9 million that year. New York accounted for 11.5 percent of the nation’s foreign-born. 8-1-05

SERVICES FOR DENNIS M. MAUTONE, KNOWN FOR CRIMINAL DEFENSE
A funeral Mass will be offered Aug. 3 for Dennis M. Mautone, a Belleville solo and former assistant prosecutor in Essex and Hudson counties, who died in a motorcycle crash in Montana. He was 57. He worked as an investigator for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office while attending New York Law School. In the late 1980s, Mautone successfully defended accused mobster Manuel Monteiro in a 21-month racketeering trial of 20 defendants in Newark. It was one of the longest criminal proceedings in the nation and one of New Jersey’s most famous mob trials. The Mass will take place at 11:15 a.m. at St. Rose of Lima Church in Short Hills. Mautone’s survivors include his older brother, U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony R. Mautone in Newark. 8-1-05

TOWN CONSIDERS NEW TWIST ON PAY TO PLAY
Jackson Township may add a new wrinkle to pay-to-play rules. The Township Council in Jackson is considering an ordinance that would require applicants disclose their local political contributions when submitting their proposals to the municipal planning or zoning boards. The rule would require both the applicant and their representatives, such as lawyers and engineers, disclose any contributions to local candidates and political committees for one year prior to the application. 8-1-05

KENYAN OFFERS GOATS, COWS FOR CHELSEA CLINTON
A Kenyan city councilman says he offered Bill Clinton 40 goats and 20 cows for his daughter Chelsea’s hand in marriage in 1990 and is still waiting for an answer. “Had I succeeded in wooing Chelsea, I would have had a grand wedding,” Nakuru Councilor Godwin Kipkemoi Chepkurgor says in the East African Standard newspaper. He also vowed to remain single until he receives a reply from the former president. It’s not known whether Clinton or his daughter ever saw the letter, though 40 goats and 20 cows are nothing to sneeze at. 8-1-05



Today's Decision Summaries

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FROM THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT, MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2005
NO OPINIONS WERE RELEASED BY THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT ON MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2005.

THE SUPREME COURT has announced that it will release opinions in STATE v. FRANKLIN, A-64, STATE v. ABDULLAH, A-73, and STATE v. NATALE, A-82/83, on August 2, 2005. The issue on appeal in Franklin addresses whether a trial court may sentence a defendant to an extended term under the Graves Act after a jury acquittal on the charge of using a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The issue on appeal in Abdullah addresses whether the defendant’s sentence, which included consecutive maximum terms and periods of parole ineligibility, was unconstitutional because it was based on facts that were not found by a jury. The issue on appeal in Natale addresses whether a trial court may sentence a defendant to a term that exceeds the presumptive term under N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1f(1) in the absence of additional findings by the jury.



APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
MOTOR VEHICLES
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES v. PEPE
Appellate Division, A-176-04T2, approved for publication August 1, 2005. (11 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 92604

As the home state of a person convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in another state, New Jersey is expressly authorized by N.J.S.A. 39:5D-4 to suspend the driver’s license of that person. The double jeopardy clause does not bar a license suspension in the person’s home state after his reciprocal driving privileges have been suspended in the state where the offense occurred.

DRUNK DRIVING
STATE v. PUZIO
Appellate Division, A-2040-04T1, approved for publication August 1, 2005. (9 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 92605

A police officer who stops an automobile for a violation of the motor vehicle laws must have an objectively reasonable belief that the law has been violated; that belief cannot be predicated on an erroneous understanding of the law.

NOT APPROVED FOR PUBLICATION
NEGLIGENCE
VITA v. BAAN
Appellate Division, A-4511-03T5, August 1, 2005, not approved for publication. (9 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18311

Orders in an automobile negligence action that struck the defendant driver’s answer and suppressed his defenses for failure to comply with discovery and that denied his motion for reconsideration affirmed, but judgment for the plaintiff driver as to damages reversed and remanded for the entry of an amended judgment; as to the discovery sanctions, the trial court did not abuse its discretion (1) where the delay was extensive, (2) where the only reason offered for the delay was a “vague claim of unavailability” that was made after the defendant’s answer was struck and reconsideration was denied, (3) where the defendant, who did not participate during the pretrial process, could not shift the fault to his attorney, and (4) where further delay “obviously” would prejudice the plaintiff’s right to a fair and speedy trial; as to the judgment, the trial court applied an incorrect interest rate in calculating prejudgment interest.

DAMAGES
ADAMS v. HAMILTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF EDUCATION
Appellate Division, A-6697-03T1, August 1, 2005, not approved for publication. (7 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18310

Order denying the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial on damages or for additur in a personal injury action reversed and remanded; the plaintiff severed her fingers while working in a woodshop class at the defendant high school; after the jury returned a liability verdict against the defendant teacher and the defendant Board of Education, the teacher successfully moved to dismiss the punitive damages claim against him; under N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.12a and Brill v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, the issue of whether the teacher’s removal of a blade guard from the table saw amounted to “wanton and willful disregard” should have been submitted to the jury; the teacher’s testimony that there was a reason for removing the guard was not a sufficient basis for denying the punitive damages claim.

TORT CLAIMS ACT
TREGASKIS v. TOWNSHIP OF GALLOWAY
Appellate Division, A-1067-04T1, August 1, 2005, not approved for publication. (7 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18312

Order granting the plaintiff’s motion for leave to file a late notice of claim under the Tort Claims Act in her slip-and-fall action reversed; the plaintiff’s accident occurred on March 3, 2004, and she consulted an attorney on April 9; the attorney sent a letter dated May 7 to the defendant municipality to notify it of the plaintiff’s injury, but the municipality denied receiving it; when he received no reply to the May 7 letter, the attorney sent a second letter dated June 2; the letter was not received by the municipality until June 22; the belated filing of the notice of claim was attributable solely to the attorney’s case manager supervisor, who did not follow up on his delegated responsibility when there was no response to the May 7 letter; this type of office negligence did not constitute extraordinary circumstances as contemplated by the amended version of N.J.S.A. 59:8-9.

LANDLORD AND TENANT
MIDDLETOWN SENIOR CITIZENS HOUSING CORP. v. MARTIN
Appellate Division, A-1144-04T1, August 1, 2005, not approved for publication. (8 pages). Facts-on-Call Order No. 18313

Judgment of possession for the plaintiff private, nonprofit senior housing complex affirmed; the defendant tenant, who was 41 years old, had been employed as the live-in superintendent; contrary to the defendant’s argument that the plaintiff’s complaint was inadequate under N.J.S.A. 2A:18-61.1(m) because it failed to explain that his tenancy was conditional on employment, the parties’ documented history indicated that the only reason that his tenancy was terminated was because he no longer was employed as the superintendent; once the defendant’s employment was terminated, he no longer could occupy the apartment in a complex in which he was not eligible “age-wise” to live; the federal regulations cited by the defendant did not apply.


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