Criminal Justice

Court: Police must face life-threatening danger to search with no warrant

BY: - January 20, 2022

New Jersey police who arrest people outside their homes can’t then enter and search their homes without a warrant, unless there’s a clear potential of life-threatening danger to officers on the scene, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday. The high court’s decision involves two cases centered on a routine police practice called protective sweeps, […]

Judges side with A.G. on waiving mandatory minimum prison sentences

BY: - January 20, 2022

A New Jersey appellate panel weighed in this week on a yearslong battle over mandatory minimum prison sentences, affirming the state Attorney General’s directive last year ordering prosecutors to waive mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenses. Superior Court Judge Carmen Messano, writing for the three-judge panel Tuesday, rejected a lower court’s argument that the directive wrongly set […]

Judge delivers new victory for juvenile offenders serving lengthy prison terms

BY: - January 19, 2022

A New Jersey judge ordered a new hearing Wednesday for a man sentenced to life in prison for two murders he committed as a teenager, the latest in a string of state court rulings holding that juvenile offenders have a greater capacity than adults to reform and shouldn’t be condemned to lifetime imprisonment. William Thomas […]

Gov. Murphy signs flurry of bills just before second term begins

BY: and - January 19, 2022

Gov. Phil Murphy signed a controversial law Tuesday that will allow New Jersey police officers to review their own body-camera footage before writing incident reports. Reformers fought the measure, fearing it would enable officers to omit details the camera didn’t capture and thereby evade accountability. Police unions pushed for it, saying it would improve the […]

Supreme Court panel pulls opinion that barred discipline for race-based jury challenges

BY: - January 14, 2022

A New Jersey Supreme Court advisory panel has withdrawn a 24-year-old opinion that allowed attorneys to challenge jurors on the basis of their race during jury selection. The Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, an 18-member body appointed by the Supreme Court, found the 1998 opinion directly conflicts with provisions of the rules of professional conduct […]

After promising national search, Murphy wants to promote acting corrections commissioner

BY: - January 14, 2022

Gov. Phil Murphy nominated acting Corrections Commissioner Victoria Kuhn to permanently head the Department of Corrections Thursday. Kuhn, who was chief of staff to former Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks, has held the position an acting basis since Hicks resigned in June over severe inmate beatings at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, the state’s only women’s […]

Justices give hope to juvenile offenders, allow sentencing review after 20 years

BY: - January 10, 2022

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday that juvenile offenders serving lengthy prison sentences may ask for sentencing review after they’ve served 20 years behind bars, a decision juvenile justice reformers celebrated as overdue recognition that children don’t deserve to be locked away for life. The ruling stems from the cases of James Comer, who […]

N.J. prisons grapple with staff shortages, inmate restrictions as COVID-19 spreads anew

BY: - January 10, 2022

As the omicron variant sends coronavirus cases surging statewide, the virus also has spiked in New Jersey prisons, creating severe staffing shortages and increased restrictions for inmates, including suspended visitation. About 1,600 of the 7,300 staffers with the state Department of Corrections were out because of COVID-19 in December, and another 450 tested positive the […]

Public defenders could soon be free for minors

BY: - January 5, 2022

Assembly lawmakers are set to advance a bill Thursday that would make New Jersey minors eligible for free representation by state public defenders. Under existing law, the state’s family courts decide whether underage criminal defendants qualify for representation from the Office of the Public Defender, weighing whether they can afford to hire attorneys on their […]

N.J. corrections department without permanent head for six months

BY: - December 30, 2021

The New Jersey Department of Corrections remains without a permanent head nearly six months after Commissioner Marcus Hicks resigned on the heels of a scathing report that found significant lapses in oversight at the state’s only women’s prison. Hicks quit in early June after a report drafted by former State Comptroller Matt Boxer found leadership […]

Bill to abolish some juvenile offenders’ fines awaiting governor’s OK

BY: - December 29, 2021

A bill that would eliminate many fines and costs imposed on juvenile offenders now heads to Gov. Phil Murphy after passing in the Legislature. The measure would excuse youthful offenders from having to pay: certain testing and laboratory fees; a penalty for false public alarms; a monthly penalty imposed on juvenile sex offenders; and the cost of […]

Five more correctional officers charged in inmate assaults at women’s prison

BY: - December 16, 2021

Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck announced criminal charges Wednesday against four senior correctional police officers and the administrator who was in charge of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women on the night last January when the officers allegedly severely beat and injured several inmates. The new charges bring to 15 the total number of […]