IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF LORRAINE HOVATTER
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
DOCKET NO. A-1236-05T51236-05T5
IN THE MATTER OF
THE APPLICATION OF
Submitted May 1, 2006 - Decided May 26, 2006
Before Judges Lintner and Gilroy.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County, for denial of application for duplicate New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card.
Evan F. Nappan, attorney for appellant Lorraine Hovatter.
James P. Lynch, Acting Camden County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent, State of New Jersey (Kathleen M. Higgins, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).
Appellant, Lorraine L. Hovatter, applied to the Chief of Police of the Winslow Township Police Department for a duplicate New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card. On May 3, 2004, the Chief of Police issued a letter denying her application because "the issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare," and because appellant "[f]ail[ed] to complete [the] application process," citing N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3c(5) and 2C:58-3e, respectively. On May 6, 2004, appellant voluntarily surrendered her original Firearms Purchaser Identification Card pursuant to the request of the Chief of Police.
On May 7, 2004, appellant forwarded a letter of appeal from the denial of her application to the designated gun permit judge in the vicinage of Camden, with copies served upon the Superintendent of State Police of New Jersey, Chief of Police of Winslow Township, the Camden County Prosecutor, and the Winslow Township attorney. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3d; R. 2:2-3(a). Fifteen months later, not having received a response to her appeal, appellant, through counsel, entered into an exchange of letters with the Camden vicinage designated gun permit judge, requesting a hearing on the appeal, resulting in the judge's denial of a hearing because he could find no evidence of receipt or filing of the appeal. By letter of September 15, 2005, the judge advised "[i]nasmuch as there is no record of any appeal ever being filed, nothing can be scheduled. May I suggest that you have your client re-apply so that [the] matter can be reviewed again by the Winslow Township Police Department." By letter of September 27, 2005, appellant's counsel asserted that the appeal had been appropriately and timely filed, and again requested a hearing. By letter of September 29, 2005, the judge advised counsel:
I received your letter of September 27, 2005[,] with regard to the above-captioned matter. While you have correctly copied the various sections of the Statute and the Administrative Code, the fact remains that no appeal was filed in this matter within the thirty-day period with the clerk or myself, the designated gun appeal judge.
Your later correspondence to this Court in August concerning the matter does not constitute the filing of an appeal and, inasmuch as you cannot provide the Court with any documents marked "filed," there is no appeal to be held in this matter as thirty days have passed and no appeal has been perfected. That is why I suggest your client reapply to the Chief of Police so that the process may begin again.
On November 10, 2005, appellant filed her notice of appeal from the judge's letter of September 29, 2005. On November 15, 2005, the judge filed a letter amplifying his prior reasons for denial of the hearing, Rule 2:5-1(b).
Unless otherwise provided by rule or statute, appeals to the Appellate Division concerning actions in the Superior Court trial divisions, may only be taken from final judgments or orders, Rule 2:2-3(a)(1). "It has long and invariably been recognized, in particular, that no appeal lies from opinions or from written or oral conclusions of courts, but only from judgments or orders." Credit Bureau Collection Agency v. Lind, 71 N.J. Super. 326, 328 (App. Div. 1961). Here, the parties failed to arrange for the entry of an order based on the trial judge's decision denying a hearing. Accordingly, "[t]he appeal must be dismissed as there is nothing before us to review." Homeowner's Taxpayers Ass'n of S. Plainfield, Inc. v. Borough of S. Plainfield Sewerage Auth., 60 N.J. Super. 321, 322 (App. Div. 1960).
The appeal is dismissed without prejudice to appellant to reapply for issuance of a duplicate New Jersey Firearms Purchaser Identification Card, and if desired, to appeal from any denial thereof.
The notice of appeal was incorrectly captioned.
The statute provides that a "hearing shall be held and a record made thereof within 30 days of the receipt of the application for such hearing by the judge of the Superior Court. No formal pleading and no filing fee shall be required as a preliminary to such hearing. Appeals from the results of such hearing shall be in accordance with law." N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3d.
May 26, 2006