Either Side of July 4

With July 4 falling on a Tuesday, some of us took the opportunity to extend the preceding weekend into some or all of the last days of June, July 3, and days this week after July 4. But the state courts were open on July 3, and those courts issued other decisions late last week and this week. Here are summaries of some of those rulings:

State v. Amer, ___ N.J. ___ (2023). The Interstate Agreement on Detainers, N.J.S.A. 2A:159A-1 to -15 (“IAD”), addresses the circumstance of a prisoner who is transferred from one jurisdiction to another jurisdiction, one in which criminal charges are pending against the prisoner. The IAD requires that a trial occur within 180 days of a particular case event. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Patterson, the Court held that defendant’s trial was not improperly delayed in violation of the IAD. That ruling affirmed, as modified, the decision of the Appellate Division.

Facebook, Inc. v. State of New Jersey, ___ N.J. ___ (2023). Chief Justice Rabner wrote the Court’s 5-0 opinion (Justice Fasciale and Judge Sabatino did not participate) in this highly-publicized case. The issue was whether the State could require Facebook to provide the contents of two users’ accounts every fifteen minutes for thirty days based only on a showing of probable cause that is ordinarily required for searches and seizures. The Court held that the situation was functionally equivalent to a wiretap, and that the stricter standards of the Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:156A-1 to -26, required more protection for Facebook than just probable cause.

Singer v. Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2023). The issue in this case, raised for the first time, was “whether the existence of a recall notice alone is sufficient to satisfy the non-conformity element required to establish a Lemon Law [N.J.S.A. 56:12-29 to -49] claim.” In an opinion by Judge Berdote Byrne, the Appellate Division answered “no,” affirming a summary judgment that the Law Division had granted in favor of defendant.

Thomas Makuch, LLC v. Township of Jackson, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2023). Judge Gilson wrote the panel’s opinion in this case, which arose out of a case in which plaintiff towing company had been suspended from defendant’s list of companies that would be called, on a rotating basis, to provide towing services in that municipality. Defendants moved for and were granted summary judgment. The key question on appeal was whether the suspension violated plaintiff’s right to due process. The Appellate Division affirmed the Law Division’s ruling, holding that “plaintiff was accorded the process due its limited right to be on the Township’s towing lists and there were no other constitutional violations.”