In re Denial of Application of Winston for a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2014).  George Winston, Jr. applied to the Police Chief in Clifton, New Jerey for a firearms purchaser identification card and a permit to purchase a gun.  In his application, Winston disclosed that he had two criminal convictions in New York.  In 1974, he had been convicted of secoond degree attempted assault, an offense punishable by imprisonment for up to four years.  In 1989, he had been convicted of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, for possession of a controlled substance.  But in 2011, Winston obtained from New York courts “certificates for relief from disabilities” as to both convictions.  Those certificates stated that they “grant relief from all or certain enumerated disabilities, forfeitures, or bars to his employment automatically imposed by law by reason of his conviction[s] ….”  The certificates also made clear, however, that they “shall NOT be deemed nor construed to be a pardon.”   read more

Yesterday, as expected, the Supreme Court announced that an appeal as of right has been filed, and had been accepted by the Supreme Court, in State v. Buckner, 437 N..J. Super. 8 (App. Div. 2014).  The Appellate Division’s 2-1 decision is discussed here.  The question presented to the Supreme Court, as phrased by the Clerk’s Office, is “Does N.J.S.A. 43:6A-13(b), which authorizes the recall of retired judges for temporary service, violate provisions of the New Jersey State Constitution?”  This is likely to be one of the blockbuster constitutional law cases in the current Supreme Court term. read more

New Jersey Natural Gas Co. v. Borough of Red Bank, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2014).  New Jersey Natural Gas (“NJNG”) proposed to remove underground gas regulators located in the Borough of Red Bank and replace them with above-ground regulators that would protrude through sidewalks.  The Borough was concerned that the new regulators would pose a hazard to pedestrians and interfere with mainenance of the sidewalks.  When NJNG filed applications for permits to open streets and sidewalks in order to do the gas regulator work, the Borough denied those applications.  NJNG filed an action in lieu of prerogative writ, and the Law Division granted summary judgment to NJNG, declaring, based on N.J.S.A. 48:9-17, that NJNG had sole discretion to determine how it would distribute natural gas service within a municipality, and that the Borough had no authority, pursuant to its land use powers or otherwise, to control the location of NJNG’s regulators.  The Borough appealed and won a reversal.  Judge Messano wrote the Appellate Division’s opinion, which awarded summary judgment to the Borough and dismissed NJNG’s complaint. read more

Manhattan Trailer Park Homeowners Ass’n, Inc. v. Manhattan Trailer Court & Trailer Sales, Inc., ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2014).  The Mobile Home Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 46:8C-2 to -21, is intended to protect residents of mobile home parks against unscrupulous landords.  Among the protections that the Act affords residents is a right of first refusal to acquire the “private residential leasehold community land” if the owner decides to sell the property or receives a bona fide offer to buy the property.  Defendant, the owner of a mobile home park, solicited offers for the purchase of defendant’s park.  As defendant did that, it also sent notices to quit to the residents of the park, advising them that the property would no longer be used as a mobile home park.  The residents then formed an association, the plaintiff in this case, as is required in order for residents to exercise their rights under the Act. read more

I recently reported on the circus-like atmosphere surrounding the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania as a result of the criminal conviction of former Justice Joan Orie Melvin and the more recent revelation that Justice Seamus McCaffrey had been ensnared in a pornographic email scandal.  There have been two new developments as of today.  First, Joan Orie Melvin, whose conviction was affirmed on her direct appeal earlier this year, has abandoned her further appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and accepted her sentence.  Second, Justice McCaffrey has resigned.  The stain on the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will not be cleansed easily, but these may be first steps toward that end. read more

Thorpe v. Borough of Jim Thorpe, ___ F.3d ___ (3d Cir. 2014).  Jim Thorpe was one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.  He won Olympic medals in 1912 and played both professional football and baseball.  When he died in 1953, his third wife, Patsy, with the approval of one of Thorpe’s daughters, had him buried in what is now named Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, a newly-formed borough that had been created by merging two other boroughs.  Some of Thorpe’s children from previous marriages, however, objected to their father being buried in Pennsylvania.  Thorpe was a Native American and a member of the Sac and Fox Nation in Oklahoma.  The objecting children wanted Thorpe to be buried on tribal land in Oklahoma.  At least one other child, and some grandchildren, opposed that, preferring that Thorpe be allowed to rest in peace and that the decision of Patsy, his wife, to bury him in Pennsylvania be respected. read more

Benjoray, Inc. v. Academy House Child Development Center, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2014).  In general, landlord-tenant cases are intended to proceed in the Special Civil Part.  The presumption is that such cases are suitable for disposition without the full panoply of discovery and other procedures that the Law or Chancery Divisions afford.  The goal of the summary dispossess statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:18-51 to -61 is, as Judge O’Connor stated in this opinion, “to provide landlords with a swift and simple method of obtaining possession.”  N.J.S.A. 2A:18-60, however, allows transfer to the Law Division of a landlord-tenant case that is of “sufficient importance.”  Defendant, a child development center, sought to transfer this commerical tenancy matter to the Law Division.  That application was denied in the Special Civil Part.  On appeal, the Appellate Division reversed and ordered transfer. read more

Some people have complaints about the Justices of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, though our Court in fact remains at or near the top of all state Supreme Courts in the United States.  But to see a state Supreme Court that is truly an embarrassment, one need look no further than across the Delaware River, to Pennsylvania.  Last year, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Justice Joan Orie Melvin resigned her seat after being convicted of multiple counts of theft of services, conspiracy, and misappropriating state property.  Justice Orie Melvin had wrongly used state employees in her campaigns for election to the Supreme Court.  Her conviction was affirmed on appeal on August 21, 2014. read more