A Charter School Case and Two Criminal Cases (One Involving the Movie “The Shining”) Reach the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court announced that it has granted certification in three more cases. How can the case involving “The Shining” not be discussed first?

That case is State v. Williams. The question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Did the State’s summation, in which the prosecutor used a still photograph from the movie The Shining and compared defendant’s conduct to that of the character depicted in the photograph, constitute prosecutorial misconduct requiring reversal of defendant’s conviction?” A two-judge panel of the Appellate Division, in an unpublished opinion, found no error an upheld defendant’s conviction for second-degree robbery.

The other criminal appeal is State v. Garcia. That case presents this question: “Did the exclusion of a video showing members of defendant’s family attempting to speak with police officers at the scene of the incident, and the prosecutor’s statement during summation pertaining to whether defendant’s family attempted to speak to the police at the scene, deprive defendant of a fair trial?” An unpublished opinion of a three-judge Appellate Division panel rejected defendant’s argument and affirmed defendant’s convictions on aggravated assault and weapons charges, though the panel remanded the matter because some of the convictions should have been merged.

Finally, the charter school case is In re Renewal Application of TEAM Academy Charter School. The question presented there is “Were the Commissioner of Education’s decisions to approve student enrollment increases at seven charter schools in Newark arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable?” As summarized here, the Appellate Division, in a three-judge opinion reported at 459 N.J. Super. 111 (App. Div. 2019), upheld the Commissioner’s decision.