A Trove of New Appeals for the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court announced that it has granted review in six new appeals. In two of them, the Court granted leave to appeal. The other two involved grants of certification.

The first leave to appeal case is State v. Harrell. The question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Under the circumstances presented, is the alleged victim’s recorded statement from when she was eight years old admissible at trial now when she is fifteen and would testify that she recalls only one of the incidents of alleged sexual assault described in that statement?” The Law Division granted defendant’s in limine motion to exclude those parts of the statement that related to incidents that the victim no longer recalled. However, in an opinion reported at 475 N.J. Super. 545 (App. Div. 2023), the Appellate Division reversed that ruling.

The other leave to appeal case is New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency v. A.P. The question presented there is “Can the Division of Child Protection and Permanency use expunged criminal records in this child abuse and neglect proceeding that arises out of the same incident as the criminal matter?” The Family Part allowed the use of the expunged records and the Appellate Division affirmed in an opinion reported at 475 N.J. Super. 472 (App. Div. 2023).

Only one of the grants of certification involves a published Appellate Division decision. That case is Hyman v. Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey. That appeal presents this question: “Does the ministerial exception bar any tort claims raised by a former ministerial employee against a religious institution if those claims are related to the religious institution’s employment decision?” In its opinion reported at 474 N.J. Super. 561 (App. Div. 2023), and discussed here, the Appellate Division affirmed the Law Division’s grant of summary judgment for defendants based on the ministerial exception.

In Seago v. Board of Trustees, Teachers Pension & Annuity Fund, the question presented is “Under the circumstances presented, did the Board of Trustees of the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund err by denying petitioner’s request to process an untimely interfund transfer from her Public Employees’ Retirement System account?” In an unpublished opinion, a two-judge Appellate Division panel affirmed the decision of the Board that denied processing of the untimely transfer.

In another appeal from an unpublished decision of a two-judge panel of the Appellate Division, In the Matter of Brian Ambroise presents this question: “Did the Civil Service Commission err by denying the Department of Corrections’ motion to reopen the hearing and by imposing a six-month suspension?” Rebuffing an appeal by the Department of Corrections, the Appellate Division upheld the Civil Service Commission’s final agency decision that affirmed in part the ruling of an Administrative Law Judge’s initial decision but modified the sanction to a six-month suspension of Ambroise, a Senior Correctional Police Officer.

The last of the six new cases is Goyco v. Progressive Ins. Co. The question presented there is “Is plaintiff, who was operating a low-speed electric scooter at the time of the accident, a ‘pedestrian’ under N.J.S.A. 39:6A-2(h), and therefore entitled to Personal Injury Protection benefits?” The Law Division dismissed plaintiff’s complaint, finding that he was not a pedestrian. A two-judge Appellate Division panel affirmed that ruling in an unpublished opinion.