The First Opinion by Justice Solomon

State v. Jaffe, 220 N.J. 114 (2014).  As discussed here, the first opinion written by a new Justice is generally a unanimous decision in a relatively unexceptional case.  Today, Justice Solomon, a former prosecutor, was doubtless in his comfort zone.  He issued his first opinion for the Court in this criminal case.  The issue was whether, properly interpreted, State v. Randolph, 210 N.J. 330 (2012), requires that a defendant’s post-offense conduct be considered in connection with sentencing.

After reviewing Randolph and the requirements and purposes of the sentencing guidelines, Justice Solomon concluded that “the trial court should view a defendant as he or she stands before the court on the day of sentencing.  This means evidence of post-offense conduct, rehabilitative or otherwise, must be considered in assessing the applicability of, and weight to be given to, aggravating and mitigating factors.”

Though a judge’s “sentencing determinations are entitled to substantial deference,” the trial judge here had declined to consider at all post-offense evidence that defendant presented in support of a claim of rehabilitation.  As a result, the Supreme Court vacated the sentence that had been imposed and remanded the matter “for a de novo assessment of the applicable aggravating and mitigating factors, accounting for defendant’s post-offense conduct …. up to the date of his resentencing.”