The First Grants of Supreme Court Review of the New Term

The Supreme Court announced its first group of new cases for this Term. Of the three cases, each came to the Court by a different route.

A-1-21, State v. Ramirez, is before the Court on leave to appeal. The question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Is defense counsel entitled to the victim’s home address as part of discovery in this criminal prosecution?” The Law Division adopted a position that allowed defense counsel and his investigator(s) access to the victim’s address, but a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division, on leave to appeal, reversed that ruling in an opinion reported at 467 N.J. Super. 359 (App. Div. 2021). That court found an abuse of discretion in failing to keep the victim’s address completely confidential.

The question presented in Jeter v. Sam’s Club, a case in which the Supreme Court granted certification, is “Does the mode-of-operation rule apply to defendant’s sale of grapes?” Both the Law Division and a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, held that the mode of operation doctrine did not apply.

Finally, State v. A.L.A. presents this question: “Was the court required to tailor the jury instructions for simple assault to explain that not all corporal punishment is simple assault?” This appeal is before the Court as of right, due to a dissent in the Appellate Division. The unpublished per curiam opinion of the Appellate Division majority upheld defendant’s conviction on one count of simple assault for hitting her youngest grandchild with a belt twelve times. The dissent found that the jury instructions as given were clearly capable of producing an unjust result.