Two Grants of Certification and a Solicitation for Amicus Briefs by the Supreme Court

All New Jersey state and federal courts are closed today for Columbus Day. But late last Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it had granted review in two more criminal appeals. The Court also solicited amicus curiae briefs in a pending appeal.

First, the two new appeals. In State v. Carrion, the question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Did the failure of the arresting officers to apprise defendant of his Miranda rights prior to his initial statements in his apartment preclude the admission of his subsequent warned statements at the police station?” Both the Law Division and a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division, in an unpublished per curiam opinion, denied defendant’s motion to suppress the warned statements, and a jury convicted him of numerous gun- and drug-related crimes.

The other new appeal, State v. Anderson, presents this question: “Was the forfeiture of this public employee’s pension a fine that implicates the Excessive Fines Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Paragraph 12 of the New Jersey Constitution, and if so, what factors should courts consider when assessing whether pension forfeiture is excessive?” The Law Division ordered forfeiture of the full pension. As discussed here, in an opinion reported at 463 N.J. Super. 168 (App. Div. 2020), a three-judge Appellate Division panel agreed with defendant that the pension forfeiture was a “fine” that implicated the constitutional provisions, but rejected defendant’s contention that the forfeiture was an excessive fine.

The amicus invitation came in Richter v. Oakland Bd. of Educ., discussed here. As noted there, and as recited in the Court’s order, available here, the Court had granted certification on two limited issues. The Court heard oral argument on September 14, 2020. Presumably as a result of that argument, the Court has requested simultaneous supplemental briefing, due on November 9, from the parties and the current amici on two more issues, which are:

“1. Are Law Against Discrimination (LAD), N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49, claims filed by an employee against an employer for workplace bodily injuries subject to the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers Compensation Act (WCA), N.J.S.A. 34:15-8?

2. Must an employee seeking recovery for bodily injuries under LAD prove that the employer engaged in an intentional wrong pursuant to N.J.S.A. 34:15-8?”

In addition to calling for supplemental briefing from the parties and current amici, the Court “invites additional motions for leave to participate as amicus curiae to file a brief addressing the above-referenced additional issues.” Any such motions are also due by November 9 and are to include the proposed amicus brief on the merits. The parties have until November 23 to file responses to any such motions, which responses are to include the parties proposed briefs in response on the merits.

This action by the Court is not unprecedented. As noted here, the Court did this same thing in Orientale v. Jennings, 239 N.J. 569 (2019). There, the Court ultimately restructured the law of additur and remittitur, as discussed here. What the result of this new step in Richter will be remains to be seen.