Skip to main content
THIS SITE

Recent Decisions of the New Jersey Appellate Courts
from 2020-11-16 to 2020-11-30

Supreme Court Decisions


Appellate Division PUBLISHED Decisions


Appellate Division UNPUBLISHED Decisions


Docket No.: a1127-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. YOAFRY MINALLA,
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance 1 (CDS), namely fentanyl, N.J.S.A. 2C:35- 10(a)(1); second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b)(1); second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a)(1); and fourth-degree resisting arrest by flight, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(a)(2). After merger, defendant was sentenced to a seven-year prison term with a forty-two-month period of parole ineligibility for the weapons convictions and concurrent five- and one-year terms, respectively, for the drug and resisting arrest convictions. On appeal, defendant raises the following contentions: POINT I THE TRIAL COURT ISSUED INADEQUATE JURY INSTRUCTIONS ON POSSESSION OF A FIREARM FOR AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE AND FAILED TO PROPERLY ADDRESS THE JURY'S QUESTION REGARDING EVIDENCE OF AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE. 1 Defendant was initially indicted for possession of heroin (count one) and crack cocaine (count four). On the verdict sheet, however, the CDS identified in count one is fentanyl, an analog for heroin. Likewise, in the judgment of conviction, count one is listed as possession of "CDS/ANALOG." A-1127-18T2 2 A. The Jury Instructions Were Insufficient Because They Did Not Describe Defendant's Alleged Unlawful Purpose. B. The Trial Court Erred in Failing to Appropriately Address the Jury's Question Pertaining to Evidence of an Unlawful Purpose. POINT II THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR IN DENYING THE MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL ON POSSESSION OF A FIREARM FOR AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE. POINT III THE STATE COMMITTED PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT WHEN IT ASKED DEFENDANT TO CHARACTERIZE TESTIMONY AS LYING AND BERATED THE DEFENSE STRATEGY, DEPRIVING THE DEFENDANT OF DUE PROCESS AND A FAIR TRIAL. U.S. CONST. AMEND. XIV; N.J. CONST. ART. 1 ¶ 10. POINT IV THE SENTENCE IMPOSED FOR THE SECOND- DEGREE UNLAWFUL POSSESSION OF A WEAPON CONVICTION IS MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE AND MUST BE REDUCED. For the following reasons, we affirm defendant's convictions and sentences.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2992-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. PEDRO M. DECASTRO
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Pedro DeCastro appeals from the February 21, 2019, denial of his post-conviction relief (PCR) petition without an evidentiary hearing and his concurrent motion to withdraw his guilty plea. In his petition, defendant asserts that his plea counsel failed to properly advise him of the immigration consequences of his plea. We reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing because based on our review of the record there are disputed material facts.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3411-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. HOPETON B. BROWN, JR
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Hopeton B. Brown, Jr. appeals from the trial court's order denying, without an evidentiary hearing, his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). Brown collaterally challenges his conviction of second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5–2, N.J.S.A. 2C:15–1(a), and fourth-degree criminal trespass, N.J.S.A. 2C:18–3, which was charged as a lesser-included offense of attempted armed robbery. We affirmed those convictions on direct appeal.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3662-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. HECTOR C. CORDERO
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM After pleading guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter, defendant appeals from a February 8, 2019 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). Defendant maintains his plea counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to make evidence-based arguments related to mitigation, competency, and capacity. Judge Gwendolyn Blue found defendant knowingly and voluntarily pled guilty, entered the order under review, and rendered a comprehensive oral opinion. On appeal, defendant argues: POINT I THE PCR [JUDGE] ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S PETITION FOR [PCR] DESPITE INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF [PLEA] COUNSEL AS ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO THE U.S. CONST. AMEND. VI AND BY THE N.J. CONST. ART. I, ¶ 10. (Raised Below). POINT II THE PCR [JUDGE] ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT [PLEA] COUNSEL'S FAILURE T[O] MAKE EVIDENCE-BASED ARGUMENTS RELEVANT TO MITIGATION CONSTITUTED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL. (Raised Below). POINT III THE PCR [JUDGE] ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT [PLEA] COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO RAISE EVIDENCE-BASED ARGUMENTS REGARDING A-3662-18T1 2 COMPETENCY CONSTITUTED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF [PLEA] COUNSEL. (Raised Below). POINT IV THE [PCR JUDGE] ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT [PLEA] COUNSEL'S FAILURE TO DEVELOP CAPACITY ARGUMENTS BASED ON DEFENDANT'S MEDICAL RECORDS DID NOT CONSTITUTE INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF [PLEA] COUNSEL. (Raised Below). POINT V THE PCR [JUDGE] ERRED IN MISCHARACTERIZING THE RECORD AND DEFENDANT'S ARGUMENTS. POINT VI THE PCR [JUDGE] ERRED IN NOT RULING THAT THE ERRORS OF [PLEA] COUNSEL CUMULATIVELY CONSTITUTED INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF [PLEA] COUNSEL. POINT VII THE [PCR JUDGE] ERRED IN REFUSING TO GRANT DEFENDANT'S REQUEST FOR AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING REGARDING DEFENDANT'S CLAIMS OF INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF [PLEA] COUNSEL. We disagree and affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3673-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. LAMAR A. JONES
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Lamar A. Jones appeals from the trial court's order denying, without an evidentiary hearing, his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). Jones collaterally challenges his conviction of second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5–2, N.J.S.A. 2C:15–1(a), second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39–5(b), and second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39–4(a). We affirmed those convictions on direct appeal, but we reversed defendant's conviction of fourth- degree criminal trespass, N.J.S.A. 2C:18–3, which was charged as a lesser- included offense of attempted armed robbery. See State v. Jones, No. A-4115- 13 (App. Div. Aug. 1, 2017). We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4094-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. JOSE A. PEREZ
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
3, 2006. The Honorable Peter V. Ryan, J.S.C., presided over the PCR hearing and on January 7, 2013, the judge issued a written opinion denying the petition. Defendant appealed and we affirmed.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4264-19
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. JARRELL PAGE
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Jarrell Page pleaded guilty in 2012 to first-degree robbery of a gas station attendant and was sentenced to six years in prison, subject to the periods of parole ineligibility and supervision required by the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. He was paroled in 2016 but reincarcerated eighteen months later on a parole violation. He is now at Northern State Prison with a maximum release date of January 14, 2021. In June 2020, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Page filed a motion under Rule 3:21- 10(b)(2), seeking release from custody, or, alternatively, judicial furlough pursuant to State v. Boone, 262 N.J. Super. 220 (Law Div. 1992), or Executive Order 124.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5218-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY v. D.P. and D.D and L.M
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant L.M.1 appeals from a May 2, 2019 fact-finding determination that he sexually abused his stepdaughter, G.D. (Gail), in violation of N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(c)(3). We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5633-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. ANTONIO F. VARGAS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Antonio F. Vargas appeals from a July 22, 2019 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5690-18
Decided: 2020-11-17
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. IRVIN MORALES
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Irvin Morales appeals from the April 17, 2019, denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. He also appeals from the concurrent denial of his motion to compel DNA testing of certain crime scene evidence. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0562-19
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: SURAIYA BEGUM v. SENTHILKUMAR PALANISAMY HEWITT
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM In this post-judgment matter, defendant/father appeals from a September 20, 2019 Family Part order denying him reconsideration of a June 4, 2019 order, addressing custody, parenting time, and related issues pertaining to his daughter, Alexis1, and awarding plaintiff/mother counsel fees. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0602-19
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: APRILE GREENIDGE v. HUSSEIN M. MAREY
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM This case involves litigation commencing after the settlement of a personal injury lawsuit. Plaintiff appeals from a September 27, 2019 order granting defendant New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company's (NJM) motion for reconsideration and dismissing her complaint with prejudice. Defendant failed to make a proper motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim—as the Rules of Court require—and cannot do so informally in a brief supporting a motion for reconsideration; the judge failed to state findings of fact or conclusions of law; and plaintiff was not given the opportunity for oral argument. We therefore reverse and remand to allow defendant to file a motion anew.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0947-18
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: SUSAN CONFESSORE, v. AGCO CORPORATION
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM This appeal arises from a jury's no-cause verdict in a products liability case. Plaintiff's husband was killed in 2013 when a farm tractor he was operating at an orchard flipped over while attempting to remove a tree. The tractor was manufactured in 1975 by defendant's business predecessor in interest. Plaintiff and her experts claimed the tractor was defectively designed because it lacked a rollover protective system (a “ROPS”), which might have spared her husband's life. In response, defendant and its experts contended the tractor was built in conformity with the industry's state of the art as of time of its sale in 1975. They maintained that a ROPS was not installed in 1975 for “low profile” tractors of the kind used in orchards, where low hanging branches could interfere with the elevated ROPS attachment. Defendant also argued that a “foldable” (or "collapsible") ROPS, which plaintiff suggested as a design alternative, was not feasible in 1975, nor practical. On appeal, plaintiff mainly challenges various aspects of the instructions provided to the jury on design defect principles. She also contends the verdict form was deficient, and that the judge made erroneous and prejudicial evidentiary rulings during the trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1082-19
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: RICHARD GREISBERG v. MICHAEL OMBRELLINO, M.D
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM In this medical malpractice informed-consent case, plaintiff appeals an October 30, 2019 order dismissing his complaint for failure to serve an affidavit of merit (AOM). His main contention is that an AOM was unnecessary because the common knowledge doctrine applies. The judge disagreed and dismissed the complaint against defendant Michael Ombrellino, M.D., a board certified vascular and general surgeon, concluding that—although given the opportunity to replace a previously served non-conforming AOM with a new one—plaintiff failed to do so. We agree that the common knowledge doctrine is inapplicable and affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1267-19
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: ASPHALT PAVING SYSTEMS INC v. ASSOCIATED ASPHALT PARTNERS, LLC
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Asphalt Paving Systems, Inc. appeals from an order denying its request to vacate an arbitration award entered in favor of defendants Associated Asphalt Partners, LLC and Associated Asphalt Transport, LLC. Plaintiff contends the court erred by failing to find there was an appearance of impropriety concerning the arbitrator that required vacation of the award under N.J.S.A. 2A:23B-23(a)(2). Based on our review of the record, we are convinced plaintiff failed to sustain its burden of establishing evident partiality of the arbitrator requiring vacation of the award under N.J.S.A. 2A:23B-23(a)(2), and plaintiff otherwise waived its right to challenge the award under the statute by failing to assert its claim prior to its receipt of the unfavorable arbitration award. We therefore affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1613-19
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: G.T v. Y.A
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM This post-judgment divorce case returns on appeal after a two-year interval. Once again, the divorced parents' dispute stems from issues concerning their two children. Since the divorce, the two children have been residing with the mother, plaintiff G.T., as the parent of primary residence.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1695-18
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: MITT KISHAN, LLC v. DIVISION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE AND HEALTH SERVICES
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Petitioners Mitt Kishan, LLC d/b/a Shayona Pharmacy and Rita Patel (Patel) appeal from an April 19, 2018 final decision of respondent Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services (DMAHS). The DMAHS adopted a February 28, 2018 initial decision issued by an administrative law judge (ALJ), enforcing a settlement agreement between the parties. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2701-18
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: HEATHER GENSINGER v. IRIS REYES
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Heather Gensinger was indicted for two counts of second-degree theft arising from her employment at Advoserv of New Jersey (Advoserv). Gensinger consequently filed a civil action under the New Jersey Civil Rights Act (NJCRA), N.J.S.A. 10:6-1 to -2, and the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (TCA), N.J.S.A. 59:1-1 to 12-3, against defendants Iris Reyes, Craig Metz, State of New Jersey, Department of Human Services (DHS), Camelia M. Valdes, Jay W. McCann, Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, County of Passaic, and Advoserv. She also made claims of common law negligent training and supervision, false arrest, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, malicious abuse of prosecution, and civil conspiracy. After a jury acquitted Gensinger, the motion court, in response to a Rule 4:6-2(e) motion, entered an order dismissing her action as to all defendants, including Passaic County, which did not file a motion to dismiss. We affirm the order – with the exception of Passaic County – because there was probable cause to indict Gensinger and, as a matter of law, her pleadings are insufficient to sustain her allegations.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4675-18
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: G.S v. DIVISION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE AND HEALTH SERVICES, and HUNTERDON COUNTY DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM On August 30, 2018, respondent, the Hunterdon County Welfare Agency (the agency), issued appellant, G.S., a notice of overpayment of ACA1 Medicaid benefits. The agency sought $125,692.35. G.S. requested a hearing, which occurred February 19, 2019. On March 11, 2019, the administrative law judge (ALJ) issued an initial decision waiving the overpayment. In her decision, the ALJ made witness credibility findings as well as detailed findings of fact.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5308-18
Decided: 2020-11-16
Caption: P.J.W v. E.B.W
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM This appeal involves disputes concerning alimony, child support, and attorney's fees that arose after the parties were divorced. Defendant, the former wife, appeals from a June 28, 2019 order that reduced the former husband's alimony obligations due to a change of employment and a related reduction in his compensation. Plaintiff cross-appeals from the same order, contending that his child-support obligation should have ended when their unemancipated child came to live with him and that he was entitled to reimbursement for child support paid while the child was living with him. He also challenges the denial of his request for attorney's fees. The order being appealed was entered after a plenary hearing. Having reviewed the extensive record and applicable law, we discern no error in the decisions concerning alimony and attorney's fees. We reverse the provision of the order concerning child support because the family court failed to set forth its findings of fact and conclusions of law on that issue. Accordingly, we remand that issue.

click here to get this case.


Tax Court Cases