Five More Cases, Including a Certified Question From the Third Circuit, for the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has granted review in five more appeals. One of them involves a question certified to it by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, one is before the Court on leave to appeal, and the others involve grants of certification.

City of Asbury Park v. Star Insurance Company presents a question certified from the Third Circuit: “Does the made-whole doctrine apply to first-dollar risk that is allocated to an insured under an insurance policy, i.e., a self-insured retention or deductible?” The Court accepted the question essentially as framed by the Third Circuit.

State v. Jackson, which actually involves two consolidated cases, is before the Court on leave to appeal. The question presented there, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Did the State’s acquisition of recorded inmate telephone calls pursuant to a grand jury subpoena violate the New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:156A-1 to -37?” Reversing the Law Division, a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division found no violation, holding that inmates had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the phone calls, and that prosecutors were authorized to obtain the recording without a search warrant, a communications data warrant, or a wiretap order. The panel’s opinion is reported at 460 N.J. Super. 258 (App. Div. 2019).

Fraternal Order of Police- Newark Lodge No. 12 v. City of Newark presents this question: “Does Newark’s ordinance creating a civilian complaint review board with the authority to issue subpoenas and investigate complaints of alleged police misconduct violate N.J.S.A. 40A:14-118, the Attorney General Guidelines on Internal Affairs Policy and Procedures under N.J.S.A. 40A:14-181, or police officers’ due process rights?” The Law Division granted summary judgment to plaintiff, the Fraternal Order of Police. The City of Newark appealed, and a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division, in an opinion reported at 459 N.J. Super. 458 (App. Div. 2019), affirmed in part and reversed in part. The panel found the ordinance valid but for two exceptions.

In Crispino v. Township of Sparta, the question presented is “Among other issues, was it just and fair for the Township to impose a special assessment to rehabilitate a dam owned by a private beach club on non-members of the club?” The Law Division ruled for plaintiffs, but an unpublished per curiam opinion of a two-judge Appellate Division panel reversed and found sufficient basis for the Township’s action. The rulings in those courts centered on the validity of an expert report.

Finally, in State v. Courtney, the Court will address this question: “Under the circumstances presented, did N.J.S.A. 2C:35-12 preclude the court from imposing a lesser sentence than provided for in the plea agreement?” Both the Law Division and a two-judge Appellate Division panel, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, found no error in the Law Division’s refusal to impose a lesser sentence than that provided in the plea agreement.