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Judicial Reform States New Jersey

New Jersey Supreme Court

At Risk
Total Judgeships: 

7 (0 vacancies)

Political Makeup: 

Non-Partisan

Location(s): 
Trenton
Caseload: 

1200

Recent Cases

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LISTEN NOWThe Freedom Files Podcast Episode 37: Shon HopwoodListen Here
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Split Permission for Police Entry of Home Affirmed

Mon, 05/19/2014

New Jersey v. Lamb: Michael Lamb was believed to be connected to a shooting and his whereabouts were traced back to his parent’s home. Upon approaching the house, Lamb’s stepfather emphatically told police that they were not welcome on his property or in his home. Police did not have enough probable cause to get a warrant. Later on, when Lamb and the stepfather were out of the house, the police came back and were given permission to enter from Lamb’s mother which led to the retrieval of evidence that resulted in Lamb’s conviction.

Decision

The Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled in favor of the State on the basis that the consent given by the mother was valid, voluntary, and knowing. Since the mother was the only party present, she held the power to make the decision and her decision is justifiable since she is a resident of the home. The Court, though this ruling, established that gaining permission by one party is not in violation of another party’s rights whose permission may not have been granted.

Read the full decision here
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When Unlawful Detainment Leads to More

Mon, 05/19/2014

New Jersey v. Coles: Coles was approached by police as being a potential suspect in a robbery that happened in the vicinity. He was apprehended but upon interviewing him and searching his person, police found no evidence connecting him to the robbery. However, they continued to detain Coles because he had no identification on him. Coles stated that he lived a few houses down which resulted in police going there and then searching his room, resulting in weapons being found. Coles appealed the findings on the basis that he was detained unlawfully without probable cause.

Decision

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of Coles concluding that Coles’ continued detention after police had concluded that he was not connected with the robbery was unjust and unlawful. In addition, the Court concluded that the police had absolutely no probable cause as a basis for conducting the search of Coles’ room and that the search was not necessary to gain any information about Coles’ identity, which could have easily been found in minutes and led to Coles’ release from detainment.

Read the full decision here
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Doctor Sued Over Missed Child Abuse Injury

Wed, 04/23/2014

L.A. v. D.Y.F.S.: A child was brought to the emergency room under the report of having accidentally consumed cologne, was treated, and then sent home. The child was in the custody of the father. Later on, after reports of child abuse surfaced, the mother filed suit against the hospital and doctor on grounds of medical malpractice based on the fact that the doctor did not file a possible child abuse report on the cologne ingestion. There was no evidence that child abuse was a factor when the child came to the hospital. The plaintiff states that the doctor breached his duty of care to the child.

Decision

The Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled in favor of the doctor and the hospital by granting them summary judgment. The Court stated that “application of an objective reasonableness review” was what determined that the doctor did not breach a duty of care. Had the case been decided in favor of the plaintiff, the implications would have been huge in relation to possible litigation against doctors who would have to protect themselves by filing all child related injuries as possible child abuse.

Read the full decision here
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Court Rules that Rap Lyrics Can’t be Used as Evidence

Fri, 08/31/2012

State of New Jersey v. Skinner: Vonte Skinner was accused of attempted murder after evidence connected him to a shooting related to a debt. Skinner is a rapper whose lyrics are full of death threats, violence, and analogies that can be read as a confession to the crime. As a result, the State presented his rap lyrics as evidence against him in court. Skinner argued that lyrics cannot be taken literally for if they were, many rappers and other artists could be accused of many violent crimes that currently, people do not actually believe they committed.

Decision

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of Skinner, affirming the rulings of the lower courts, dismissing the rap lyrics as evidence and stating that the lyrics cannot be read for their literal meaning.

Read the full decision here