Articles Posted in Supreme Court of New Jersey

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The defendants in these appeals committed very serious, violent crimes when they were juveniles. One was serving a sentence of 110 years imprisonment and would not be eligible for parole until he spent 55 years in jail. At that time, he would be about 72 years old. The second was serving a 75-year term and was ineligible for parole until he served 68 years and 3 months in jail. He would then be 85 years old. The United States Supreme Court recognized the mitigating qualities of youth and directed that judges in those cases consider a number of factors at sentencing, including immaturity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences; family and home environment; family and peer pressures; an inability to deal with police officers or prosecutors or the juvenile s own attorney; and the possibility of rehabilitation. The New Jersey Court found the same concerns applied to sentences that were the practical equivalent of life without parole, like the ones in these appeals. "The proper focus belongs on the amount of real time a juvenile will spend in jail and not on the formal label attached to his sentence. To satisfy the Eighth Amendment and Article I, Paragraph 12 of the State Constitution, which both prohibit cruel and unusual punishment, we direct that defendants be resentenced and that the 'Miller' factors be addressed at that time. [. . .] In short, judges should exercise a heightened level of care before they impose multiple consecutive sentences on juveniles which would result in lengthy jail terms." Both cases were remanded for resentencing. View "New Jersey v. Zuber" on Justia Law

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What began as a fight between two students, C.W. and D.W., ended in the death of one of them. N.H., who was seventeen years old at the time, attended the fight to support his friend, D.W. N.H. allegedly grabbed a handgun from another individual and shot C.W. four times, including once in the back of the head. A video captured parts of the incident, and several witnesses made statements to the police that implicated N.H. N.H. also spoke to the police and said that he had shot only at the ground. At oral argument before the New Jersey Supreme Court, the State explained that it had not disclosed certain items in its possession which it did not intend to rely on at the waiver hearing. Those materials included additional witness statements, other police reports, and other videos of the event taken from different angles. N.H. moved for full discovery before the waiver hearing, and the trial court granted the request. The court analogized the filing of a juvenile complaint to the filing of a criminal indictment, which would trigger full discovery under Rule 3:13-3(b). The trial court stayed its order pending the outcome of the State's motion for leave to appeal. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's order. The issue raised by the State's appeal in this matter was whether a juvenile was entitled to full discovery when the State sought to waive jurisdiction and transfer a case from juvenile to adult court. The Supreme Court held the State is indeed required to disclose all discovery in its possession when it seeks to waive jurisdiction and transfer a case from juvenile to adult court. View "New Jersey in the Interest of N.H." on Justia Law