Supreme Court of New Jersey Decisions

Browse Opinions From the Supreme Court of New Jersey

Recent Decisions From the Supreme Court of New Jersey

New Jersey v. Dickerson  
Date: February 5, 2018
Docket Number: a-1-17

Justia Opinion Summary: This appeal raised the question of whether, in cases involving a search warrant, Rule 3:4-2(c)(1)(B) required the State to produce the affidavit underlying the warrant prior to a pretrial detention hearing pursuant to th...

New Jersey v. Prall  
Date: January 31, 2018
Docket Number: a-28-16

Justia Opinion Summary: The Appellate Division reversed defendant Tormu Prall’s conviction, finding that: (1) his prior threat to kill his girlfriend, Jessie Harley, was admitted in error and without a limiting instruction; (2) the State improp...

New Jersey v. S.N.  
Date: January 30, 2018
Docket Number: a-60-16

Justia Opinion Summary: This appeal sought the proper standard for appellate review of pretrial detention decisions under the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA), N.J.S.A. 2A:162-15 to -26. In a complaint-warrant, the State charged defendant S.N...

New Jersey v. Bailey  
Date: January 22, 2018
Docket Number: a-96-15

Justia Opinion Summary: Carlos Guerrero and Alex Mejia were walking in New Brunswick after a night of drinking. A video surveillance camera captured defendant Karlton Bailey approaching Guerrero from behind and putting his hand in Guerrero’s ba...

New Jersey v. Sanchez-Medina  
Date: January 18, 2018
Docket Number: a-10-16

Justia Opinion Summary: A jury convicted defendant Alexis Sanchez-Medina of various sexual-assault crimes that involved four separate victims: R.D., D.J., A.M., and A.B. The issue this case presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's review ce...

New Jersey v. Sutherland  
Date: January 11, 2018
Docket Number: a-14-16

Justia Opinion Summary: In this matter, a police officer pulled over a car under the belief that the vehicle was in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-61(a) and -66 because one of the vehicle’s taillights was not working. The trial court determined tha...

Hayes v. Delamotte  
Date: January 10, 2018
Docket Number: a-4-16

Justia Opinion Summary: In 2001, plaintiff Doreen Hayes was diagnosed with a syrinx in her thoracic spine. Plaintiff’s last MRI, prior to the accident at issue in this case, was taken in May 2007. In 2008, plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle...

New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. A.B.  
Date: December 21, 2017
Docket Number: a-27-16

Justia Opinion Summary: Sixteen-year-old A.F. and her infant son lived with her biological mother, A.B., in an apartment owned by A.B.’s sister, J.F. In 2012, the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (the Division) received a...

New Jersey v. Burkert  
Date: December 19, 2017
Docket Number: a-6-16

Justia Opinion Summary: William Burkert and Gerald Halton were corrections officers, who held positions in different unions representing distinct classes of officers. Their relationship became strained after Burkert read online comments attribu...

New Jersey v. Boone  
Date: December 18, 2017
Docket Number: a-3-16

Justia Opinion Summary: Defendant Akeem Boone faced seven charges related to drugs and a weapon found during an August 2012 search of his apartment in Hackensack. He sought to suppress the evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant police had...

A.T. v. Cohen  
Date: December 14, 2017
Docket Number: a-12-16

Justia Opinion Summary: T.T., individually and on behalf of her three-year-old daughter, A.T., filed this medical malpractice action seeking damages from a hospital and several medical professionals for injuries caused during the child’s birth....

State v. Rolando Terrell
Date: November 29, 2017
Docket Number: a-25-16 PER CURIAM opinion, reported at ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2016). CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, PATTERSON, FERNANDEZ-VINA, SOLOMON, and TIMPONE join in this opinion. JUSTICE ALBIN filed a separate opinion, dissenting in part. 2 SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY A-25 September Term 2016 077730 STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. ROLANDO TERRELL, Defendant-Appellant. JUSTICE ALBIN, dissenting in part. The trial court erred in the second trial by removing a deliberating juror without determining whether her expressed emotional discomfort was related to juror discussions or conflicts with other jurors. A juror cannot be relieved of her duty because the deliberations are unpleasant or difficult, causing emotional turmoil or anxiety. To avoid the potential of improperly removing a juror for reasons related to the deliberative process, our trial judges must engage in a thorough yet precise colloquy. The trial court’s limited dialogue with Juror Number Two failed that test. Although the court questioned Juror Number Two about her emotional ability to continue, the court asked no questions concerning the source of her emotional distress. Precisely directed questions could have eliminated the possibility that the court unwittingly was removing a dissenting 1 juror who felt put upon by the majority. Because the removal of Juror Number Two without adequate cause compromised defendant’s right to a fair trial, I agree with Judge Higbee that a new trial should have been granted. Rule 1:8-2(d)(1) governs the removal of a juror after the commencement of deliberations. It provides that, during deliberations, a court may select an alternate juror only if “a juror dies or is discharged by the court because of illness or other inability to continue.” R. 1:8-2(d)(1). Here, we are concerned about the “inability to continue” provision of that rule. We have restrictively construed that provision “to protect a defendant’s right to a fair jury trial.” State v. Jenkins, 182 N.J. 112, 124 (2004). A trial court is forbidden from removing a deliberating juror when the “removal is in any way related to the deliberative process.” Ibid.; see also State v. Musa, 222 N.J. 554, 566 (2015) (“[T]he removal of a juror because he is disputatious and does not share the views of other jurors would undermine the very essence of the free and open debate that is expected of jury deliberations.”). A juror cannot be excused unless the circumstances “relate exclusively to the personal situation of the juror himself and not to his interaction with the other jurors or with the case itself.” State v. Valenzuela, 136 N.J. 458, 468 (1994) (quoting State v. Trent, 157 N.J. Super. 231, 239 (App. Div. 1978), rev’d 2 on other grounds, 79 N.J. 251 (1979)). Moreover, a juror may not be removed “unless the record ‘adequately establish[es] that the juror suffers from an inability to function that is personal and unrelated to the juror’s interaction with the other jury members.’” Jenkins, 182 N.J. at 124-25 (alteration in original) (quoting State v. Hightower, 146 N.J. 239, 254 (1996)). A juror’s emotional or psychological inability to function because of the death or illness of a family member, a work-connected crisis, or a threat directed to her outside the jury room are personal to her and unrelated to the deliberative process. Those may be adequate reasons for the removal of a juror consistent with Rule 1:8-2(d)(1). A physical or mental illness that renders a juror unable to deliberate also would be an adequate reason. Emotional angst caused by the grueling and sometimes harsh give-and-take among jurors is not. On the first day of deliberations, the jury sent a note to the court advising that, earlier in the day, a man outside the courthouse had said to Juror Number Two, as she passed by, “not guilty.” The trial court interviewed each juror, including Juror Number Two, and all said the event would not affect their ability to serve and remain impartial. The jury continued to deliberate that day and for two additional days. On the third day, Juror Number Two and another juror asked to be removed as deliberating jurors. 3 The court engaged in a colloquy with Juror Number Two, advising her not to reveal anything about the jury deliberations. Their brief dialogue follows: The Court: Do you feel that there is emotionally an inability for you to proceed and perform your duties as a deliberating juror? The Juror: Yes. The Court: Do you feel that these emotions that you have, again, would impact upon your ability to perform your function in this case? The Juror: No. I know it’s not balanced in what I’m saying, but there’s reasons why I can’t speak without giving away –- The Court: I don’t want you to talk about that. But emotionally, you feel you can’t continue? The Juror: Correct. The Court: I’m going to leave it at that for now. Thank you. Based on that perfunctory exchange, which elicited contradictory responses, the court removed Juror Number Two. Nowhere in the colloquy did the court ensure that Juror Number Two’s “emotions” were unrelated to the jury deliberations. The court could have pointedly asked whether her reasons to be removed concerned a personal matter -- such as illness or a family problem -- unrelated to the deliberations, and if she said yes, the court could have made further inquiry. 4 The court also could have asked the juror whether her “emotions” related to her earlier encounter outside the courthouse, even though after the incident she averred she could be impartial. If she said yes, that would have been a legitimate basis for her removal. Last, the court could have requested the juror to give a simple yes or no answer to the question of whether her emotional discomfort related to the deliberative process with her fellow jurors -- while expressly admonishing the juror to say nothing about the actual deliberations or any juror’s views or the vote count. The court’s colloquy was fatally flawed because it did not adequately establish that the juror’s emotional distress was “unrelated to the juror’s interaction with the other jury members.” See id. at 125. After Juror Number Two’s removal and the selection of an alternate juror, the jury returned a verdict in less than two and a half hours. The court’s removal of Juror Number Two without determining that she was unable to function in accordance with Rule 1:8-2(d)(1) constituted unwarranted judicial interference with the integrity of the deliberative process. I concur with Judge Higbee’s conclusion that defendant was entitled to a new trial. 5
EQR-LPC Urban Renewal North Pier, LLC v. City of Jersey City  
Date: November 15, 2017
Docket Number: a-16-16

Justia Opinion Summary: In this appeal, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether the 2000 and 2001 financial agreements between plaintiffs EQR-Lincoln Urban Renewal Jersey City, LLC (EQR-Lincoln), and EQR-LPC Urban Renewal North Pier, LL...

Granata v.Broderick  
Date: November 14, 2017
Docket Number: a-31-32-16

Justia Opinion Summary: In this appeal, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether an attorney’s pledge of anticipated attorney’s fees could be considered an account receivable and secured under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UC...

Verry v. Franklin Fire District No. 1  
Date: August 7, 2017
Docket Number: a-77-15

Justia Opinion Summary: At issue in this appeal was a judgment requiring the release, pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), of the constitution and bylaws of a volunteer fire company that was a member of a fire district established pu...

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