Five More Cases for the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court announced that it has granted certification in five new cases. Here they are:

In Usachenok v. State of New Jersey, Dep’t of the Treasury, the question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Does N.J.A.C. 4A:7-3.1(j), a civil service regulation governing investigations of discrimination that, as amended in 2020, directs investigators to ‘request that all persons interviewed, including witnesses, not discuss any aspect of the investigation with others, unless there is a legitimate business reason,’ impermissibly restrict protected speech in violation of the First Amendment or the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination [LAD]?” In an unpublished per curiam opinion, a three-judge Appellate Division panel rejected the claim that the regulation violated either the Constitution or the LAD.

State v. Hill presents this concise question: “Is the witness tampering statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5(a), unconstitutionally overbroad?” The Appellate Division, in an unpublished per curiam opinion by a three-judge panel, said “no” and affirmed defendant’s convictions for carjacking and witness tampering.

This is the question presented in Boyle v. Huff: “Among other issues, did the indemnification provision in the Ocean Club Condominium Association’s by-laws indemnify a member of the Association’s Board of Trustees for a first-party action that the trustee filed against the Association, and was the trustee entitled to recover attorney’s fees from the Association under the indemnification provision in an action to enforce the indemnification provision?” In an unpublished per curiam opinion by a three-judge panel, the Appellate Division “affirm[ed] the portion of the orders and final judgment holding that plaintiff is entitled to recover certain fees and costs, vacate[d] the actual fee award, and remand[ed] for further consideration of the amount of fees and costs to be awarded.”

Sidewalk liability cases we will seemingly always have with us. In Padilla v. Young IL An, the question presented is “Are the owners of vacant commercial lots liable to pedestrians injured by poorly maintained sidewalks abutting those lots?” Affirming the decision of the Law Division to grant summary judgment to defendants, a two-judge panel of the Appellate Division, in a per curiam opinion, ruled that Abraham v. Gupta, 281 N.J. Super. 81 (App. Div. 1995), “remains good law that an owner of a non-income producing vacant lot owes no duty to the public to maintain the lot’s abutting sidewalk in a safe condition.”

The final appeal is New Jersey Division of Child Protection & Permanency v. D.C.A. and J.J.C.B, where the question presented is “Do the 2021 amendments to N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1(a), the best interests of the child test, bar all evidence of a child’s relationship with resource caregivers in a termination of parental rights case?” This is the only one of these five appeals that arises from a published Appellate Division opinion, reported at 474 N.J. Super. 11 (App. Div. 2023). The Supreme Court set a peremptory briefing schedule in this case, with any motion for leave to appear as amicus curiae to be filed, along with the proposed amicus brief, by June 23, 2023.