A Diverse Diet of New Cases for the Supreme Court

In making up for lost time, a separate post was warranted to take note of three new grants of review by the Supreme Court.  The cases address very different areas of the law.

The biggest of the three cases may be Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Morris Cty. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders.  The Court granted certification and accelerated this appeal.  The question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, is “Does the County’s voter-approved program providing grants to non-profit organizations that own buildings on the state or federal historic register, including churches and other religious institutions, violate Article I, paragraph 3 of the New Jersey Constitution?”  That constitutional provision relates to freedom of religion, and includes a prohibition that no person shall “be obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for building or repairing any church or churches, place or places of worship,” contrary to that person’s belief.

In Allstars Auto Group, Inc. v. New Jersey Motor Vehicle Comm’n, the question presented is “Were these licensed motor vehicle dealers entitled to contested case hearings prior to the imposition of license suspensions and fines for their failure to comply with Motor Vehicle Commission regulations?”  In an unpublished opinion, a three-judge Appellate Division panel found that no such hearings were required in the circumstances, where “there were no adjudicative facts in dispute.”

Finally, the Court will decide another criminal case involving issues surrounding allegedly illegal searches.  That appeal is State v. Hamlett.  The question presented there is “Did police improperly search defendant’s center console while looking for the vehicle’s registration and rental agreement; and, did the municipal court judge err in issuing a warrant to search defendant’s motel room?”In a published opinion reported at 449 N.J. Super. 159 (App. Div. 2017), the Appellate Division rejected defendant’s challenges to the searches.