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Key Legal Developments

 
 



COVID-19: Compilation of NJ Court Orders, Directives & Notices


05/18/22: Municipal Court Bench Warrants – New Statewide Policy for Immediate Release of Certain Individuals

The New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has issued an important new directive establishing a “uniform, statewide process for the handling of individuals with outstanding municipal court bench warrants.” Under Directive #04-22, individuals who have a bench warrant with a bail amount of $500 or less, and who cannot pay the full amount or any portion, can be released on their own recognizance (ROR) or on whatever portion of bail they can pay, subject to certain non-monetary conditions. This applies to individuals with outstanding municipal court bench warrants in all municipal court matters except for those charged with a domestic violence offense; they are not eligible for posting partial bail or ROR under the Directive.

The Directive, which is addressed to Assignment Judges and trial court administrators, requires that:
  • the bail amount set by the court cannot exceed $500;
  • the defendant must provide an updated address and contact information, including an e-mail address, where appropriate;
  • the defendant will be given the date of the required appearance before the municipal court that issued the warrant;
  • the defendant will be advised that failure to appear may result in the court reinstating the warrant; and
  • prior to release, the defendant must sign a completed New Jersey Bail Recognizance form.
Significantly, individuals who are covered by this Directive but cannot post all or any part of their bail can be released immediately without first obtaining the approval of a judge. Moreover, individuals arrested and jailed on a municipal court bench warrant but unable to promptly post bail are entitled to a bail review hearing within 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays.

Finally, Directive #04-22 supersedes any prior local Orders issued by individual Assignment Judges for their respective vicinages.

A copy of the Directive can be found at: https://www.njcourts.gov/notices/2022/n220518b.pdf?c=Y15

05/11/22: Limits for Special Civil dockets increased to $20,000 and for the Small Claims dockets to $5,000 (from NJ Courts)

03/08/22: Moynihan v. Lynch

The NJ Supreme Court reviewed the portion of the 2010 amendment to the Statute of Frauds regarding palimony agreements that requires attorney review prior to execution for the palimony to be enforceable. A palimony agreement is a written contracts for support between people in a marriage-type relationship. The Court noted first that the Statute of Frauds 2010 amendment, including the attorney review section, does not violate the contracts clause of either the US or NJ Constitutions—at least in this case—because that clause is about retroactively impeding upon a contract, but in this case, the contract was entered after the statutory amendment. In an opinion drafted by Justice Albin, the Court struck down the attorney review requirement as violating Article 1 of the NJ Constitution regarding due process and personal autonomy. The Court held that the requirement for attorney review is unique to palimony agreements and is not explained or justified in legislative history. The Court held that Article 1 provides for autonomy from government interference without due process. The Court held that such right of autonomy prevents the government from compelling individuals to hire attorneys to review contracts. The Court noted that some people may not be able to afford to hire attorneys for contract review. It also held that the written agreement for palimony must be executed at least by the party against whom it is being enforced.

In this case, the moneyed partner told the dependent partner at the time that they entered the agreement that she did not need to hire an attorney to make the agreement enforceable because their notarized signatures would be sufficient. Note, he also testified that from the outset, he did not intend to be bound by the agreement and only prepared and executed this agreement because he thought it would relieve him of the pressure to acknowledge a promise of support without actually being bound by the promise. (He thought it would be unenforceable.) Her attorney argued that the Statute of Frauds should not be used as a vehicle to intentionally defraud someone by knowingly making the agreement deficient under the statute.

01/18/22: Expanded Expungement Relief Helps Decriminalize Addiction—P.L.2021, c.403 and P.L.2021, c.460