The Supreme Court Adds to Its Criminal Docket (Plus a Tort Case)

The Supreme Court announced today that it has granted review in four more cases.  Three of those are criminal appeals.  The fourth is a tort case relating to a residential landlord’s duty of care.

The tort case is J.H. by A.R. v. R&M Tagliareni, LLC.   The question on which the Court granted certification, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, is “Did defendants, who owned and maintained a multi-family apartment building, owe a duty of care to the infant plaintiff, J.H., to protect him from the excessive heat of an uncovered radiator in one of the apartments?”  In a published opinion reported at 454 N.J. Super. 174 (App. Div. 2018), the Appellate Division reversed a summary judgment for the defense and held that the landlord had such a duty of care.

In two of the criminal cases, the Court granted certification.  The third case, State v. Byrd, is before the Court on leave to appeal.  There is a companion case, State v. Ferguson.

The question presented in Byrd/Ferguson is “Can defendants be prosecuted in New Jersey for the overdose death of the decedent under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9(a) where the decedent purchased the CDS [controlled dangerous substance] and died in New York?”  The Appellate Division granted leave to appeal, and its published opinion, reported at 455 N.J. Super. 56 (App. Div. 2018), affirmed the Law Division and held that New Jersey lacked territorial jurisdiction in that circumstance.

State v. Liepe is a sentencing appeal.  It presents the question “Did the consecutive sentences imposed on defendant as a result of his conviction for first-degree aggravated manslaughter and for second-degree aggravated assault, all arising from an automobile accident in which defendant was intoxicated, shock the judicial conscience and warrant resentencing?”  This appeal too is from a published opinion of the Appellate Division, reported at 453 N.J. Super. 126 (App. Div. 2018).  That court found that the sentences shocked the conscience.

Finally, in State v. Manning, a murder case, the question presented is “Were defendant’s cell phone records properly disclosed and admissible under the exigency exception?”  The Law Division denied a defense motion to suppress the cell phone records, but a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division, in an unpublished opinion, reversed on that issue, and because the jury should have been instructed on lesser-included offenses to murder.