Abbott v. Burke- Back to Judge Doyne

Abbott v. Burke, 2011 WL 1990554 (2011).  On January 5, 2011, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in the latest of the many rounds of this case, which involves the constitutionally-required level of funding for schools.  The issue on this particular appeal was whether the State’s failure to fund education at the level called for by the School Funding Reform Act of 2008, N.J.S.A. 18A:7F-43 to -63 (“SFRA”), due to budgetary constraints, violated the New Jersey Constitution’s guarantee of a thorough and efficient education.

Today, the Court issued a six-page Order stating that the record on appeal “provides an insufficient basis on which to make the determination whether school funding through SFRA, at the current underfunded levels, can provide a constitutional thorough and efficient education for New Jersey school children.”  The Court appointed Judge Peter E. Doyne as a Special Master to create a record on this issue, and to make proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.  The Order required Judge Doyne to provide his findings and conclusions by March 31, 2011.

This is the second time that the Court has assigned to Judge Doyne to act as a Special Master in the Abbott litigation.  The Court found that Judge Doyne’s previous report as Special Master was “invaluable.”  Abbott v. Burke, 199 N.J. 140, 146 (2009).  As a result, Judge Doyne earned an encore.