ASSEMBLY, No. 3324

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED OCTOBER 7, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  NELSON T. ALBANO

District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)

Assemblyman  MATTHEW W. MILAM

District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)

Assemblywoman  ALISON LITTELL MCHOSE

District 24 (Sussex, Hunterdon and Morris)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Provides for early termination of appointed municipal court positions under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning municipal courts and amending N.J.S.2B:12-4, P.L.1997, c.256 and P.L.1999, c.349. 

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  N.J.S.2B:12-4 is amended to read as follows:

     2B:12-4.  Judge of municipal court; term of office; appointment.        a.  Each judge of a municipal court shall serve for a term of three years from the date of appointment and until a successor is appointed and qualified.  Such three year term may be terminated before it expires if a municipality enters into an agreement to establish a joint municipal court under subsection b. of N.J.S.2B:12-1 or provide for a shared municipal court under subsection c. of N.J.S.2B:12-1.  Any appointment to fill a vacancy not caused by the expiration of term shall be made for the unexpired term only.  However, if a county or municipality requires by ordinance that the judge of the municipal court devote full time to judicial duties or limit the practice of law to non-litigated matters, the first appointment after the establishment of that requirement shall be for a full term of three years.

     b. In municipalities governed by a mayor-council form of government, the municipal court judge shall be appointed by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.  Each judge of a joint municipal court shall be nominated and appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.  In all other municipalities, the municipal judge shall be appointed by the governing body of the municipality.

     c.  In a county that has established a central municipal court, the judge of the central municipal court shall be nominated and appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.  In those counties having a county executive, the county executive may submit the names of judicial candidates for judge of the central municipal court  to the Governor.  In all other counties, the governing body may submit the names of judicial candidates for judge of the central municipal court  to the Governor.

(cf:  P.L.1996, c.95, s.3)

 

     2.  Section 4 of P.L.1997, c.256 (C.2B:24-4) is amended to read as follows:

     4.  a.  A municipal public defender shall be an attorney-at-law of this State in good standing, and shall serve for a term of one year from the date of his appointment, and may continue to serve in office pending re-appointment or appointment of a successor.  An appointment of a municipal public defender may be terminated
before such term of appointment expires if a municipality enters into
an agreement to establish a joint municipal court under subsection b. of N.J.S.2B:12-1 or provide for a shared municipal court under subsection c. of N.J.S.2B:12-1.  A municipal public defender may be appointed to that position in one or more municipal courts.  The provisions of this act shall apply to each such position held.  A municipal public defender need not reside in the municipality where he acts as a municipal public defender.

    b.  A municipal public defender of a joint municipal court shall be appointed upon the concurrence of the governing bodies of each of the municipalities in accordance with applicable laws, ordinances or resolutions.

    c. In accordance with applicable laws, ordinances and resolutions, a municipality may appoint additional municipal public defenders as necessary to administer justice in a timely and effective manner in its municipal court.  Additional appointments shall be subject to the provisions of this act, including appointments in a joint municipal court.

    d.  Appointments to fill vacancies in the position of municipal public defender shall be made in accordance with the provisions of this act  as soon as practicable.

    e.  In addition to any other means provided by law for the removal from office of a public official, a municipal public defender may be removed by the governing body of a municipality for good cause shown and after a public hearing, and upon due notice and an opportunity to be heard.  Failure to reappoint a municipal public defender for a second or subsequent term does not constitute a "removal from office" within the meaning of this subsection.

    f.  The municipal public defenders may represent private clients in any municipality, including the municipality where they act as a municipal public defender, subject to the  Rules of Court Governing the Conduct of Lawyers, Judges and Court Personnel.

(cf:  P.L.1997, c.256, s.4)

 

     3.  Section 4 of P.L.1999, c.349 (C.2B:25-4) is amended to read as follows:

     4. a. Each municipal court in this State shall have at least one municipal prosecutor appointed by the governing body of the municipality, municipalities or county in accordance with applicable laws, ordinances and resolutions.

     b. (1) A municipal prosecutor shall be an attorney-at-law of this State in good standing, and shall serve for a term of one year from the date of his or her appointment, except as determined by the governing body of a county or a city of the first class with a population greater than 270,000, according to the latest federal decennial census, or the governing body of a city of the second class with a population of greater than 30,000 but less than 43,000, according to the latest decennial census, which city of the second class is located in a county of the first class with a population less than 600,000 according to the latest federal decennial census, and may continue to serve in office pending re-appointment or appointment of a successor.  A municipal prosecutor may be appointed to that position in one or more municipal courts.  The provisions of this act shall apply to each such position held.

     (2) An appointment of a municipal prosecutor may be terminated before such term of appointment expires if a municipality enters into an agreement to establish a joint municipal court under subsection b. of N.J.S.2B:12-1 or provide for a shared municipal court under subsection c. of N.J.S.2B:12-1.

     c. (1) A municipal prosecutor of a joint municipal court shall be appointed upon the concurrence of the governing bodies of each of the municipalities in accordance with applicable laws, ordinances or resolutions.

    (2) A municipal prosecutor of a central municipal court shall be appointed by the governing body of the county.

    d. Municipal prosecutors shall be compensated either on an hourly, per diem, annual or other basis as the county, municipality or municipalities provide.  In the case of a joint municipal court, municipalities shall, by similar ordinances, enter into an agreement fixing the compensation of the municipal prosecutor and providing for its payment.  In the case of a central municipal court, the county shall fix the compensation of the municipal prosecutor and provide for its payment.

    The compensation of municipal prosecutors shall be in lieu of any and all other fees; provided, however that when a municipal prosecutor is assigned to prosecute a de novo appeal in the Superior Court, the prosecutor shall be entitled to additional compensation unless the municipality expressly provides otherwise at the time the compensation is fixed.

    e. In accordance with applicable laws, ordinances and resolutions, a municipality may appoint additional municipal prosecutors as necessary to administer justice in a timely and effective manner in its municipal court.  Such appointments shall be subject to this act.  This subsection also applies to joint municipal courts and central municipal courts.           

    f.  Any municipal court having two or more municipal prosecutors shall have a "chief municipal prosecutor" who shall be appointed by the governing body of the county or the municipality.  The chief municipal prosecutor of a joint municipal court shall be appointed upon the concurrence of the governing bodies of each municipality.  The chief municipal prosecutor shall have authority over other prosecutors serving that court with respect to the performance of their duties.

    g. (1) Nothing in this act shall affect the appointment of municipal attorneys in accordance with N.J.S.40A:9-139; provided, however, that a person appointed to the positions of both municipal prosecutor and municipal attorney shall be subject to all of the provisions of this act while serving in the capacity of municipal prosecutor.

    (2)  In addition to any other duties proscribed by the provisions of this act, a person serving as both a municipal prosecutor and a municipal attorney may prosecute county or municipal ordinance violations.

(cf:  P.L.1999, c.349, s.4)

 

     4.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     The bill provides for the early termination of appointed municipal court positions when two or more municipalities enter into agreements to establish joint municipal courts or shared municipal courts pursuant to subsections b. and c. of N.J.S.2B:12-1 respectively. 

     Under current law, municipal judges are appointed to a statutorily mandated three year term pursuant to N.J.S.2B:12-4.  Municipal public defenders and prosecutors are appointed for one year terms under section 4 of P.L.1997, c.256 (C.2B:24-4) and section 4 of P.L.1999, c.349 (C.2B:25-4) respectively.  This bill amends each of these provisions to provide municipalities with the express authority to terminate such appointments as necessary in order to facilitate the sharing of services and, ultimately, the lowering of municipal costs.