The First Supreme Court Grants of Review in 2020 Are All in Criminal Cases

The Supreme Court announced today that it has granted certification in three cases. All are criminal appeals, one of which involved a published opinion of the Appellate Division.

State v. Williams, where the Appellate Division published an opinion that is reported at 461 N.J. Super. 1 (App. Div. 2019), presents the following question, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office: “Does a resident of a rooming or boarding house have a reasonable expectation of privacy in areas beyond his or her bedroom door, e.g., in common areas?” The three-judge Appellate Division panel found that defendant had such a right, and reversed defendant’s conviction and a Law Division decision that had denied defendant’s motion to suppress evidence.

In State v. Outland, the question presented is “Did the decision not to let defendant represent himself at trial violate his constitutional rights?” In an unpublished per curiam opinion, a two-judge found no violation, affirming a ruling of the Law Division.

Finally, State v. Brown, which is actually two consolidated cases (each involving a defendant named Brown), presents this question: “Can defendants who were sentenced for their underlying sex offenses prior to 2007, when failure to register was a fourth-degree offense, be charged with third-degree failure to register under the 2007 amendment to Megan’s Law upgrading the degree of the offense?” An unpublished per curiam opinion of a three-judge Appellate Division panel, applying ex post facto principles, found that the upgraded charges were improper.