In re Adoption of a Child by J.E.V. and D.G.V., ___ N.J. ___ (2016).  In this unanimous opinion, authored by Chief Justice Rabner, the Supreme Court ruled that an indigent parent who faces the termination of her parental rights in a private adoption proceeding has a right to appointed counsel under the due process guarantee of Article I, section 1 of the New Jersey Constitution.  The Court affirmed the ruling of the Appellate Division below, which had reversed the decision of the trial court, after a two-day trial with the indigent parent appearing pro se, to terminate her parental rights. read more

Williams v. American Auto Logistics, ___ N.J. ___ (2016).  Parties who fail to follow procedural rules are a source of frustration to busy trial judges.  As Justice Fernandez-Vina noted in today’s opinion for a unanimous Supreme Court, courts have “a panoply of sanctions in [their] arsenal” to redress violations of procedural rules.  In this Special Civil Part case, which plaintiff originally filed pro se, the Court stated that striking a jury demand is not one of the weapons available in that arsenal. read more

Jai Sai Ram, LLC v. South Toms River Planning and Zoning Bd., ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2016).  As Judge Reisner stated in her opinion in this case today, before the Legislature amended the Municipal Land Use Law, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq. in 2010, “our courts applied the ‘time of decision’ rule, under which a decision concerning a land use application would be based on the municipal ordinance as it existed at the time the application or appeal was being decided.  The time of decision rule allowed municipalities to block proposed developments by changing the applicable zoning ordinances while the development applications were being considered.” read more

The Supreme Court has granted certification of class certification decisions in two cases under the Consumer Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq., and the Truth in Consumer Contract, Warranty, and Notice Act, N.J.S.A. 56:12-14 et seq.  One of the cases, Dugan v. TGI Friday’s, Inc., 445 N.J. Super. 59 (App. Div. 2016), was discussed here, in a post that suggested the result in the Appellate Division was incorrect.  The other case is Bozzi v. OSI Restaurant Partners, LLC. read more

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Supreme Court has granted review of the Appellate Division’s decision in Paff v. Galloway Tp., 444 N.J. Super. 495 (App. Div. 2016).  That decision was discussed here.  The Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”) requestor plaintiff there sought logs of emails (not the emails themselves, which defendant admitted could have been sought) sent by certain Galloway Township officials during a particular time.  Complying with that request would have required Galloway to create new records, since there were no such logs in existence.  The Appellate Division ruled that a government agency is not required to generate a record that is not already in existence, and rejected plaintiff’s argument that email logs were “metadata,”an existing part of the emails. read more

Each year, the American Bar Association nominates legal blogs for its “Blawg 100” list.  If this were a post urging readers to nominate this blog, it would include a link to information as to how make such a nomination.  That link would be here.  But such a request would be blatantly self-promoting. read more

Rosenthal & Rosenthal, Inc. v. Benun, ___ N.J. ___ (2016).  A future advance mortgage, in broad outline, is a mortgage that secures a loan that is made in stages, rather than all at once.  This case called on the Supreme Court to decide whether and when such a mortgage has priority over an intervening lien.  The Appellate Division, in an opinion summarized briefly here, applied the common law rule that has been in effect since 1864 and was thereafter largely codified by statute.  That court reversed summary judgment for plaintiff, the first mortgagee.  The Supreme Court unanimously upheld that ruling in an opinion by Judge Cuff. read more

The Third Circuit has posted a “save the date” notice, available here, for a bench-bar conference next year.  The dates are April 19-21, 2017, and the venue will be Lancaster, PA, in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country.  This will be the 73rd Third Circuit Judicial Conference.  In addition to the chance to interact with judges, the conference will offer up to 12 hours of CLE credit. read more