The Supreme Court in the Second Half of November

After a first half of November with no Supreme Court opinions, the Court issued five opinions in the second half. Two of those decisions were discussed here and here. This post summarizes the others.

Green Knight Capital, LLC v. Calderon, 252 N.J. 265 (2022). Chancery issues have long been Judge Fisher’s forte, so it was fitting that he wrote this opinion for a unanimous Court. The issue was “whether a party that acquires an interest in property subject to a tax sale foreclosure action must lose the opportunity it has acquired because of its attempt to redeem the tax sale certificate before moving to intervene.” As Judge Fisher explained, in Simon v. Cronecker, 189 N.J. 304, 337 (2007), the Court emphasized that, under the Tax Sale Law, N.J.S.A. 54:5-1 to -137, a “late-arriving investor must intervene in the foreclosure action before being allowed to redeem and that an investor’s ‘failure to follow the clear dictates of the Tax Sale Law and our court rules renders’ a pre-intervention redemption or attempted redemption ‘invalid.’” As discussed here, the Appellate Division distinguished Cronecker and allowed the investor to intervene and redeem the tax sales certificate under the circumstances. The holder of the tax sale certificate obtained Supreme Court review, arguing that Cronecker announced a non-relaxable rule. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed the Appellate Division’s decision, except for one aspect of that ruling.

State v. Ramirez, 252 N.J. 277 (2022). This criminal appeal was the vehicle for Judge Sabatino’s first Supreme Court opinion, which was unanimous. The decision had to address “the conflicting rights of a sexual assault victim — to decline to participate in an investigation and to enjoy solitude at home — and a person accused of a sexual offense — to receive an effective defense, to assert the right to confrontation and compulsory process of witnesses, and to due process.” The issue arose because the prosecutor sough ta protective order to withhold the victim’s home address from defense counsel. The Supreme Court “provide[d] a gloss to Rule 3:13-3 to ensure that a defendant’s counsel and agents do not have unfettered access to a sexual assault victim’s home address through pretrial discovery, while also requiring the trial court to consider, in its discretion, judicially supervised ‘pathways’ for: (1) conveying to the victim the defense’s reasons for seeking to contact the victim; and (2) verifying that, after being neutrally informed of those reasons, the victim still declines to be interviewed or to participate in the defense’s investigation.” Because neither court below had the benefit of the Court’s opinion, the matter was remanded for further proceedings in light of that opinion.

In re Officer Gregory Diguglielmo and New Jersey Institute of Technology, 252 N.J. 350 (2022). This case involved the issue of whether a police officer of the New Jersey Institute of Technology was eligible for “special disciplinary arbitration” after he was placed on leave with pay and then terminated due to his pursuit of and use of force upon a juvenile bicyclist. The Public Employment Relations Commission found him eligible, but the Appellate Division reversed, as summarized here. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Pierre-Louis, the Supreme Court reversed and found DiGuglielmo eligible for special disciplinary arbitration,” based on the plain language of N.J.S.A. 40A;14-209 and -210 and related statutes.