The Supreme Court Adds Five More Cases

The Supreme Court has granted review in five cases.  One of them is an appeal as of right, by virtue of a dissent in the Appellate Division.  That case is State v. Twiggs.  The question presented there, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, is “When addressing the statute of limitations in a criminal matter, is N.J.S.A. 2C:1-6’s tolling provision- which applies when ‘the actor’ is identified by means of DNA evidence- triggered where the DNA analyzed belongs to a third party, rather than the defendant?”  The Appellate Division’s opinion, which was discussed here, limited “the actor” to the defendant, excluding any third party.  Judge Leone dissented from that result, which led to Supreme Court review.

The Court granted certification in the four other cases that it will take up.  The biggest of those cases may be Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO v. New Jersey Civil Service Comm’n.  The question presented there is “Among other issues, what is the appropriate standard of review applicable when a court reviews the Legislature’s invocation of its veto power, pursuant to the Legislative Review Clause, (N.J. Const. art. V, §4, ¶6)?”  The Appellate Division’s decision in that case was discussed here, where it was predicted that the Supreme Court would either deny review (so much for that!) or affirm the result below.  The standard of review that the Appellate Division found applicable was a very deferential one, a middle ground between the Legislature’s position that no judicial review at all was permitted, and the Civil Service Commission’s view that a thorough and exacting judicial review was required.

In Harz v. Borough of Spring Lake, the question presented is “Could plaintiff maintain a cause of action against defendants under the Civil Rights Act for defendants’ failure to properly review her complaints about alleged zoning violations?”  The Appellate Division ruled that the Law Division, which had dismissed the Civil Rights Act claim, had erred in doing so.

Agriculture Development Committee v. Quaker Valley Farms, LLC, presents the following question: “Did defendants’ earth-moving activities on their farm violate the terms of the development easement granted by their predecessors in title under the Agriculture Retention and Development Act?”  In a per curiam opinion issued on a motion for reconsideration, the Appellate Division reversed a summary judgment that had been granted against defendants, the property owners, based on material issues of fact that the panel perceived.

The final case is State v. Alexander, a criminal appeal.  The question presented there is “In this trial on charges of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, did the trial court commit plain error by failing to charge the jury on the crime of second-degree aggravated assault as a lesser-included offense?”  Agreeing with defendant on this jury charge issue, the Appellate Division reversed his conviction.