Skip to main content
THIS SITE

Recent Decisions of the New Jersey Appellate Courts
from 2021-02-19 to 2021-03-05

Supreme Court Decisions


Appellate Division PUBLISHED Decisions


Docket No.: a5458-18
Decided: 2021-02-26
Caption: GLENN CIRIPOMPA v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE BOROUGH OF BOUND BROOK, SOMERSET COUNTY
Status: Published
Summary:
GUMMER, J.S.C., (temporarily assigned) Plaintiff appeals the Commissioner of Education's final administrative decision denying his claim for back pay for an unpaid suspension period that occurred before the resolution of tenure charges filed against him by the Board of Education of the Borough of Bound Brook, Somerset County. The Commissioner determined the Board could use unemployment benefits and payments from other employment plaintiff had received during the suspension period to offset outstanding back pay. We disagree that the Board could use unemployment benefits and reverse the Commissioner's decision in that respect. We otherwise affirm.

click here to get this case.


Appellate Division UNPUBLISHED Decisions


Docket No.: a0343-19
Decided: 2021-02-26
Caption: GLENN POOSIKIAN v. DIVISION OF PENSIONS AND BENEFITS -
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Appellant, Glenn Z. Poosikian (Poosikian) appeals from a Final Administrative Determination of the Board of Trustees for the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS),1 finding him ineligible for a pension.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2202-19
Decided: 2021-02-26
Caption: RITABEN B. PATEL v. ERIC S. PENNINGTON, ESQ
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiffs Ritaben B. Patel (Rita) and Bharatkumar T. Patel appeal from a January 10, 2020 Law Division order that granted the summary judgment dismissal of their legal malpractice claim against defendant Eric S. Pennington. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2817-19
Decided: 2021-02-26
Caption: M.S.1 v. M.A.S
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM This matter returns after we affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the trial court's post-judgment order adjudicating plaintiff M.S.'s request to terminate or modify alimony payable to defendant M.A.S. M.S. v. M.A.S., No. A-3937-17 (App. Div. May 7, 2019) (slip op. at 1). Plaintiff now appeals from a February 5, 2020 order denying the modification of alimony and granting defendant counsel fees. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3322-19
Decided: 2021-02-26
Caption: MIKYUNG LEE v. JUNG H. LEE
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM In this appeal, defendants Jung H. Lee and Plan J. Inc., seek reversal of a judgment, entered against them after a two-day bench trial, that awarded plaintiffs Mikyung Lee and Seoung Ju Bang $1116,500 in damages. We find no error and affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3952-18
Decided: 2021-02-26
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. CARLOS ORTIZ
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Carlos Ortiz appeals from a judgment of conviction entered after a jury found him guilty of murder, assault, theft, and related weapons offenses. On appeal, defendant does not challenge the jury's finding that he fatally strangled the victim, Rufina Castro, his former girlfriend. His contentions are that the trial judge committed plain error when he failed to: 1) instruct the jury, sua sponte, on the lesser-included offense of passion/provocation manslaughter; 2) incorporate the self-defense jury charge into each individual count; and 3) preclude the admission of testimony in which Castro's son and daughter identified defendant as her killer. He also asserts that his sentence to a term of life imprisonment subject to an approximately sixty-four-year period of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, was excessive. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part, reverse defendant's murder conviction, and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3965-18
Decided: 2021-02-26
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. TYRONE STEPHENS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant pled guilty to first-degree armed robbery, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1(a)(1), and he was sentenced to a seven-year prison term, with an eighty- five percent period of parole ineligibility, pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Defendant appeals from the judgment of conviction (JOC) dated April 8, 2019. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4953-18
Decided: 2021-02-26
Caption: BRIAN LEE ROBBINS v. CAROLE ANNE DIONNE
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Carole Anne Dionne and plaintiff Brian Lee Robbins divorced in June 2016. Since the entry of their judgment of divorce (JOD), the parties have engaged in extensive litigation regarding a variety of post-judgment issues. Here, defendant appeals from a June 28, 2019 Family Part order denying a motion for reconsideration. Specifically, defendant seeks reconsideration of the wording of the JOD, rejection of the qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) prepared by her expert, and the amount of life insurance plaintiff must maintain to secure his pension and alimony obligations. Plaintiff cross-appeals, primarily challenging the denial of his request for counsel fees. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0175-19
Decided: 2021-02-25
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. E.S
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant E.S.1 appeals from an August 9, 2019 order denying his motion for a reduction of sentence following his cooperation with law enforcement pursuant to a cooperation agreement and the sentence imposed by an August 19, 2019 judgment of conviction. We find no merit in his arguments and affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0293-19
Decided: 2021-02-25
Caption: ANNA SOUZA v. SERGIO SOUZA
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Anna Souza appeals from a July 15, 2019 order, which denied her motion for relief from a dual final judgment of divorce. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0527-19
Decided: 2021-02-25
Caption: NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CHILD PROTECTION AND PERMANENCY v. T.T and M.M
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant T.T. is the mother of three children: M.T.T. (Molly), a daughter born in 2005, and twin boys, B.M., and J.M., born in 2014. Finding their home to be in deplorable condition, in March 2017 the Division of Child Protection and Permanency commenced this Title Nine action, seeking the care, custody, and supervision of all three children. On April 4, 2017 – the return date of an order to show cause entered when the suit was commenced – the court ordered the children's removal from their home. Soon after, S.T. – Molly's father – and defendant surrendered their parental rights to Molly.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0736-19
Decided: 2021-02-25
Caption: CARLOS CARRANZA v. BOARD OF REVIEW DEPARTMENT OF LABOR and BUCKINGHAM ADULT MEDICAL DAY CARE CENTER, LLC
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Claimant Carlos Carranza appeals pro se from a September 12, 2019 final decision of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Board of Review, disqualifying him from receiving unemployment benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). The Board's decision was based on its determination that Carranza left work voluntarily without good cause attributable or related to the work. Because the factual circumstances were not sufficiently developed at the Appeal Tribunal hearing, we reverse and remand for a new hearing.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2858-19
Decided: 2021-02-25
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. DAVID L. MORTIMER
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM After the trial judge denied his motion to dismiss the indictment based upon his contention that the State violated his constitutional right to a speedy trial, defendant David L. Mortimer pled guilty to fourth-degree operating a motor vehicle while his license was suspended after multiple driving while intoxicated (DWI) convictions. N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b). The judge sentenced defendant to a mandatory term of 180 days in jail without parole and imposed appropriate fines and penalties.1 On appeal, defendant raises the following contention: I. THE TRIAL COURT ERRED AS A MATTER OF LAW IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE INDICTMENT FOR DELAY BECAUSE THE TRIAL COURT FAILED TO APPLY THE BALANCING TEST FOR SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES SET FORTH BY THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT AND THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT. Having considered this argument in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2960-18
Decided: 2021-02-25
Caption: PRISCILLA PAJELA v. DONELL L. PRINCE
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM In this landlord-tenant action, defendant appeals from the dismissal of his request for a Marini1 hearing and several subsequent orders. Although the court erred in the issuance of a judgment of possession in favor of plaintiff and a subsequent warrant of removal, the court later vacated the orders upon being apprised of the mistake. Therefore, that issue is moot. As we discern no error in the dismissal of the Marini request, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5603-18
Decided: 2021-02-25
Caption: A.O.,1 v. CATASTROPHIC ILLNESS IN CHILDREN RELIEF FUND COMMISSION
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff A.O. appeals from the July 9, 2019 final agency decision of defendant Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund Commission (the Commission) denying reimbursement of his child's medical expenses for hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) incurred in 2016 and 2017. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5644-18
Decided: 2021-02-25
Caption: ABUSSAMAA R RAMZIDDIN v. LGTC/ACCURATE MED TRANS NJ
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Abussamaa R. Ramziddin, a self-represented litigant, appeals from an August 29, 2019 order granting summary judgment to defendant LogistiCare Solutions, LLC (LogistiCare), improperly pled as LCTC/Accurate Med Trans NJ. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0028-18
Decided: 2021-02-24
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. A.L.A
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM A jury acquitted defendant A.L.A.2 of three counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of three of her grandchildren for whom she cared, 3 N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a)(2), and acquitted her of the lesser-included offense of simple assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(a)(1), in connection with two of those counts. She appeals her conviction on one count of simple assault, as a lesser-included offense, for hitting her youngest grandchild with a belt twelve times, arguing: [A.L.A.]'S CONVICTION MUST BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE SIMPLE ASSAULT CHARGE FAILED TO INSTRUCT THE JURY THAT NOT ALL CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IS SIMPLE ASSAULT. We discern no reversible error in the instruction that was given and affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1812-19
Decided: 2021-02-24
Caption: ROBERT MOSS v. BOROUGH OF FRANKLIN BOROUGH OF FRANKLIN PLANNING BOARD, SILK CITY DEVELOPMENT, LLC, SILK CITY RENTALS, LLC and JCM INVESTORS 1012, LLC -
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Robert Moss filed this action in lieu of prerogative writs to challenge a settlement reached between defendants the Borough of Franklin and its Planning Board (Board), defendants Silk City Development, LLC, Silk City Rentals, LLC (collectively Silk City Rentals) and JCM Investors 1012, LLC (JCM) as to the development of a residential real estate project within the Borough. Among his contentions, plaintiff alleged the Borough engaged in impermissible spot zoning and the Board's meeting to consider the plans submitted under the settlement agreement violated the requirements of Whispering Woods at Bamm Hollow, Inc. v. Middletown Township Planning Board, 220 N.J. Super. 161 (Law Div. 1987). Judge Stuart A. Minkowitz, dismissed plaintiff's complaint under Rule 4:6-2, setting forth his reasons in a comprehensive written decision, which included the judge's findings that plaintiff's spot zoning claim was time barred and that his Whispering Woods claim was without merit. Plaintiff appeals from that determination, challenging Judge Minkowitz's decision to dismiss the fourth count of his second amended complaint, which alleged a Whispering Woods violation, and the ninth count which alleged illegal spot zoning. We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Minkowitz in his sixteen-page December 24, 2019 written decision.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3963-18
Decided: 2021-02-24
Caption: CIBA SPECIALTY CHEMICALS, CORP v. TOWNSHIP OF DOVER
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant The Township of Toms River, formerly known as Dover Township (the Township), appeals from the judgment of the Tax Court finding A-3963-18 2 that a tract of land consisting of 1211 acres "was development-prohibited" during tax years 2004 through 2018, due to its designation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Superfund site and subsequent listing in the National Priorities List (NPL). In its cross-appeal, plaintiff CIBA Specialty Chemicals Corporation (CIBA) also contends the Tax Court erred by failing to determine the number of developable acres on the property. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4223-19
Decided: 2021-02-24
Caption: DIANA M. TRUJILLO v. OMNI BAKING CO
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM On leave to appeal, plaintiff Diana Trujillo appeals from the denial of her motion for reconsideration of the order granting summary judgment to defendant Omni Baking Co., after finding Omni did not owe plaintiff a duty. Because we conclude the trial court misapprehended the timeframe in which to analyze the imposition of a duty, we reverse.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4258-18
Decided: 2021-02-24
Caption: SUSAN GIGLIOTTI v. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Appellant Susan Gigliotti appeals from a March 18, 2019, final decision of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) finding her guilty of prohibited act $1.008, abuse and cruelty to animals, in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4448-19
Decided: 2021-02-24
Caption: ERIN MAFFUCCII v. SIMPLY STORAGE BARNEGAT, LLC
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiffs Erin Maffucci and Anthony Maffucci appeal from an August 7, 2020 Law Division order, compelling arbitration and staying litigation of their claims against defendant Simply Storage Barnegat, LLC. Because the motion judge neglected to make any meaningful findings of fact or conclusions of law in support of the order, we are constrained to reverse and remand for further proceedings.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4573-19
Decided: 2021-02-24
Caption: RONALD C. MORGAN v. WEST CAPE MAY COMBINED ZONING AND PLANNING BOARD
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiffs Ronald and Barbara Morgan (collectively plaintiffs) appeal from the Law Division's July 16, 2020 order dismissing their action in lieu of prerogative writs against defendant West Cape May Combined Zoning and Planning Board (the Board) and defendant-intervenor Ronald Baker (Baker). We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0389-19
Decided: 2021-02-23
Caption: MARY STEINHAUER-KULA v. MILLVILLE BOARD OF EDUCATION
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Mary Steinhauer-Kula appeals from the August 16, 2019 order of the Law Division granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Millville Board of Education (BOE) on her whistleblower claims. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1151-19
Decided: 2021-02-23
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. LING ZHOU
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant, Ling Zhou, appeals from her conditional guilty plea conviction for financial facilitation of criminal activity, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-25(b)(2)(A). Defendant challenges the April 24, 2019 order issued by Judge Sarah Beth Johnson denying her motion to dismiss the indictment. After carefully reviewing the record in light of the governing principles of law, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2776-19
Decided: 2021-02-23
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. MICHAEL LINDSEY
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Following a trial de novo in the Law Division, defendant Michael Lindsey appeals his convictions for driving while intoxicated (DWI), N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, refusal to submit to a chemical breath test, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a, and violating implied consent to a chemical breath test, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.2. Defendant argues: POINT I THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE [DEFENDANT] "OPERATED" THE VEHICLE OR HAD THE INTENT TO "OPERATE" THE VEHICLE WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL. POINT II THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE DEFENDANT WAS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL, THEREFORE, DEFENDANT SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ARRESTED FOR DWI. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4374-18
Decided: 2021-02-23
Caption: JOHN DELLIGATTI v. SUMMIT OAKS HOSPITAL
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM In this personal injury action, plaintiff John Delligatti appeals from an April 26, 2019 Law Division order dismissing his second amended complaint against defendant Invacare Corporation pursuant to Rule 4:6-2(e) for failure to state a claim. When the action originally was filed, Invacare was not named in the complaint, which instead named five entities, and fictitious defendants under Rule 4:26-4. Following expiration of the two-year statute of limitations, N.J.S.A. 2A:14-2, plaintiff learned Invacare's identity and was granted leave to file and serve a second amended complaint naming Invacare as a defendant. The motion judge found plaintiff did not exercise "due diligence" in identifying the fictitious defendants prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations and afterhe learned Invacare's identity. As such, the judge granted Invacare's motion to dismiss the second amended complaint. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4539-18
Decided: 2021-02-23
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. RONALD SANDERS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant appeals from an order entered by the Law Division on February 5, 2019, which denied his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5086-18
Decided: 2021-02-23
Caption: GALE L. PICCIONE v. CHARLES S. PICCIONE
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM In this post-judgment matrimonial matter, defendant Charles S. Piccione appeals from a Family Part order denying his motion to terminate his permanent alimony obligation to his former spouse, plaintiff Gale L. Piccione. 1 Based on our review of the record, we are convinced the court correctly determined defendant failed to present sufficient competent evidence establishing a permanent substantial change in circumstances warranting a hearing on his application for termination of his alimony obligation. We therefore affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0268-19
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. STEVEN W. TURNER
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Steven W. Turner appeals the August 23, 2019 denial of his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) based on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. We now reverse and remand, finding defendant established facts constituting a prima facie case, thereby requiring an evidentiary hearing.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0608-19
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. JONATHAN P. THOMAS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Jonathan P. Thomas appeals from the Law Division's order filed on April 16, 2019, denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing for the reasons stated in the PCR judge's seventeen-page written decision. Defendant contends that the PCR judge should have held an evidentiary hearing because defendant established a prima facie claim of ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) based upon trial counsel's failure to investigate two alibi witnesses and one third-party guilt witness, and failed to call those witnesses at trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0706-17
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: SUSAN LASK v. ALBERT FLORENCE
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Susan Lask appeals from numerous Law Division orders 1 up to and including the September 1, 2017, order denying reconsideration of an August 8, 2016, order dismissing her amended complaint against attorney defendants Carl D. Poplar, William A. Ribak, and Alix Schwartz; granting summary judgment for her former client, defendant Albert Florence; denying the recusal of the Law Division judge; and awarding Poplar costs under the frivolous litigation statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-59.1 (Rule 1:4-8). Defendant Florence cross-appeals the dismissal of his counterclaim and the denial of his 1 Lask did not attach orders to her original notice of appeal or case information statement but improperly listed court dates, rather than orders, in a chart. She filed orders later, dated December 9, 2014, March 23, 2015, June 3, 2015, July 7, 2015, August 7, 2015, October 23, 2015, August 8, 2016, August 18, 2017, September 1, 2017, and September 1, 2017. request for frivolous litigation sanctions. Poplar cross-appeals the denial of his request for attorney's fees. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1146-18
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. KEVIN A. CARTER
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM A jury found self-represented defendant, Kevin Carter, guilty of various weapon offenses. Defendant was sentenced to an aggregate extended ten-year prison term as a persistent offender with a five-year period of parole ineligibility. Through his counsel, defendant argues: POINT I THE [TRIAL COURT] ABUSED [ITS] DISCRETION WHEN [IT] APPOINTED DEFENSE COUNSEL AS STANDBY, AND THEN PROCEEDED WITH THE TRIAL DESPITE THE AMBIGUOUS THREAT [DEFENDANT] WOULD FILE AN ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST STANDBY COUNSEL. U.S. CONST. AMENDS. VI, XIV; N.J. CONST. ART. 1[,] PARA. 10. POINT II THE DISCRETIONARY EXTENDED TERM FOR GUN POSSESSION – TEN YEARS WITH A FIVE- YEAR PAROLE DISQUALIFIER – WAS EXCESSIVE. Defendant filed a pro se supplemental brief arguing: POINT I I ASK THAT YOU GRANT MY MOTION TO APPEAL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS[:] [A.] THE FIRST FALSITY IN THE AUGUST 17, 2016 POLICE REPORT OF OFFICER GIOVANNE AND FALSITY IN THE TESTIMONY IN THE A-1146-18 2 SUPPRESSION HEARING ABOUT HIS FIRST STATEMENT AT THE SCENE[.] [B.] DURING CROSS EXAMINATION AT THE TRIAL THE HEAD CONDUCTOR GIANNA SALVATORE ADMITTED TO ILLEGALLY DETAINING THE DEFENDANT WITHOUT PROBABLE CAUSE BEING THAT HE WAS NOT A POLICE OFFICER OR AUTHORIZED TO DO SO. POINT II THE EXCLUSIVE RELIANCE UPON HEARSAY AND DOUBLE HEARSAY IN THE TRIAL MANDATES THE STATEMENTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED AND THE EVIDENCE SEIZED SHOULD HAVE BEEN FRUIT OF THE POISONIOUS TREE IN VIOLATION OF [DEFENDANT'S] FOURTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE, FREE FROM ALL RESTRAINT AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS UNDER THE NEW JERSEY STATE CONSTITUTION AND RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL[.] [A.] THERE ARE 5 LEGAL ELEMENTS THE STATE MUST PROVE THAT [DEFENDANT] WAS IN POSSESSION OF THE WEAPONS. POINT III I ASK THAT YOU GRANT MY MOTION TO APPEAL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS[:] [A.] [TRIAL JUDGE] ALLOWED IN HEARSAY EVIDENCE INTO THIS TRIAL, IDENTIFICATIONS THAT WERE HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE, A-1146-18 3 PREJUDICIAL, CONFUSING, AND A WASTE OF TIME. POINT IV I ASK THAT YOU GRANT MY MOTION TO APPEAL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASON: [A.] AT THE TRIAL DURING THE EXAMINATION OF THE DEFENSE[] WITNESS KOREN JORDAN, THE JUDGE OBJECTED TO A QUESTION. SHE HAD THE PROSECUTOR AND STANDBY COUNSEL MEET HER AT SIDE BAR THEN OVERRULED ON HER OWN OBJECTION, WHICH IS PLAIN ERROR AND IT IMMEDIATELY PREJUDICED THE DEFENDANT IN VIOLATION OF THE DEFENDANTS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL. STANDARDS OF REVIEW: PLAIN ERROR: JUDICIAL DISCRETION. POINT V I ASK THAT YOU GRANT MY MOTION TO APPEAL FOR THE FOLLOWING REASON: [A.] INEFFECTIVE-ASSISTANCE-OF-COUNSEL [B.] [TRIAL JUDGE] ALLOWED IN HEARSAY EVIDENCE INTO THIS TRIAL, IDENTIFICATIONS THAT WERE HIGHLY SUGGESTIVE, PREJUDICIAL, CONFUSING, AND A WASTE OF TIME. Having considered the record and applicable law, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2393-18
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. ALLEN JONES
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
FUENTES, P.J.A.D. Defendant Allen Jones appeals from an order of the Criminal Part denying his post-conviction relief (PCR) petition without conducting an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2571-19
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: COUNTY OF MONMOUTH v. JERSEY CENTRAL POWER LIGHT
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM In November 2019, plaintiff County of Monmouth sued defendant Jersey Central Power and Light for $11,591.43 in damages. Plaintiff's complaint alleged defendant negligently damaged an underground storm drain owned by plaintiff on April 25, 2019, during excavation to replace a utility pole along Tennent Road in Marlboro. Following a bench trial in the Special Civil Part, the trial judge entered an order for judgment in favor of defendant, after concluding that defendant did not breach its duty of care based on its compliance with the Underground Facility Protection Act, N.J.S.A. 48:2-73 to -91 (the Act). On appeal, plaintiff argues the record lacks adequate, substantial, or credible evidence to support the trial court's finding that defendant fulfilled its duty to plaintiff. Plaintiff's appeal has merit. We therefore reverse and remand for entry of judgment in favor of plaintiff.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2868-18
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. CRAIG T. SOROKACH
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Craig T. Sorokach appeals from the February 8, 2019 order of the Law Division denying his admittance into the Monmouth County Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI). We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3152-19
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: ADRIEN SPEED and DANIELLE SHINE v. MACAULAY WILLIAMS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Macaulay Williams appeals from a February 28, 2020 order denying his motion to vacate a judgment entered against him in favor of plaintiffs Adrien Speed and Danielle Shine in the amount of $16497 for breach of a stipulation of settlement. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3847-18
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: JENNIFER LERNIHAN v. MICHAEL REVOLINSKY
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Plaintiff Jennifer Lernihan appeals the Family Part's March 29, 2019 decision denying her palimony and counsel fees. Defendant Michael Revolinsky cross-appeals the trial court's denial of his request for counsel fees and refusal to order plaintiff to reimburse $132,958.38 he paid in pendente lite support. We affirm, based on Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney's cogent, comprehensive, and thoughtful written decision.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a5137-17
Decided: 2021-02-22
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. LUIS MANGUAL
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM On the evening of December 28, 2013, Jose Alfaro got into an argument outside his home on Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark with his neighbor, Eduardo Arce. The argument ended when defendant Luis Mangual – as witnessed by others who so testified at trial – shot Alfaro right between the eyes. Mangual was convicted of all the charges contained in two indictments: the first-degree murder of Jose Alfaro, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3(a); second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b); second-degree possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a); and second-degree being a person not entitled to be in possession of a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b). He was sentenced to an aggregate fifty-five-year prison term, subject to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0341-18
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. JOHN A. WELLS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant John A. Wells appeals from his July 10, 2018 conviction and extended sentence as a persistent offender. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0401-19
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. HINA RABIA
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Hina Rabia appeals from an order denying her post-conviction relief (PCR) petition which sought the reversal of her conviction for third -degree arson, N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1(b)(1). The court denied the petition without an evidentiary hearing, finding defendant failed to establish a prim a facie case of ineffective assistance of her plea counsel under the two-pronged standard established in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984), and adopted by our Supreme Court in State v. Fritz, 105 N.J. 42, 58 (1987). Having considered defendant's arguments, the record, and the applicable legal principles, we are convinced the PCR court correctly denied the petition and we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a0683-19
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: IN THE MATTER OF THE CIVIL COMMITMENT OF M.H.,
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM M.E.H. appeals from an order, entered after a review hearing at which the judge heard testimony from three expert witnesses, continuing his involuntary civil commitment to the Special Treatment Unit (STU), pursuant to the New Jersey Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), N.J.S.A. 30:4-27.24 to -27.38. We disagree with M.E.H.'s argument that the judge "erred in crediting the Sta te with having . . . met the criteria for commitment as a [s]exually [v]iolent [p]redator" by proving that a "combination" of evidence regarding M.E.H.'s "diagnosis and risk assessment, as well as its perspective [of] the facts" established that he was "highly likely to commit a sexually violent offense in the foreseeable future," and affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1126-19
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. ALEX N. SPIROPOULOS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant appeals from an October 15, 2019 judgment of conviction after pleading guilty to fourth-degree operation of a motor vehicle with a suspended license, N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b). He focuses his argument on the denial of his pre- trial motion to suppress evidence. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1356-19
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. DAVID COMPANIONI
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant David Companioni appeals from an October 4, 2019 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) following an evidentiary hearing. Because the PCR judge's decision lacks the requisite findings of fact and conclusions of law as required by Rule 1:7-4(a), we vacate the order and remand the matter for further proceedings.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1525-19
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. JOSE R. BAEZ
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Jose R. Baez appeals the June 10, 2019 Law Division denial of his motion to suppress evidence, as well as the November 1, 2019 sentence. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a1973-18
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. SHARROD L. STUART
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Following a bench trial, defendant was found guilty of third-degree arson and third-degree aggravated assault and was sentenced to an aggregate eight- year discretionary extended prison term, with a four-year period of parole ineligibility. Before us, he argues: POINT I THE COURT ERRED IN DENYING [DEFENDANT'S] MOTION TO DISMISS THE INDICTMENT BECAUSE THE PROSECUTOR MISCHARACTERIZED CRITICAL EVIDENCE, OMITTING EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE CONTAINED IN THE COMPAINANT'S STATEMENTS TO THE POLICE AND CASTING DOUBT UPON HER CREDIBILITY AT A PRE- TRIAL HEARING BY MISSTATING HER TESTIMONY. POINT II BECAUSE THE JUDGE CONCLUDED THAT [DEFENDANT] HAD NOT KNOWINGLY PLACED THE VICTIM IN DANGER OF INJURY OR DEATH, HE ERRED IN IMPOSING AN EXTENDED-TERM SENTENCE AND A PERIOD OF PAROLE INELIGIBILITY ON THE ARSON CONVICTION. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2042-18
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. EDWARD M. PLAZA
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant was charged with second-degree reckless vehicular homicide under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5(a) after he crashed his car into a fire hydrant, killing his girlfriend in May 2016. Prior to the presentation of evidence at trial, defendant requested the court to charge the jury with the newly enacted statute of third- degree strict liability vehicular homicide, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.3, as a lesser- included offense. The new statute, which became effective on July 21, 2017, post-dated defendant's offense by more than a year. The trial court declined to issue the charge, finding it would violate the Ex Post Facto Clause. Defendant was convicted by a jury of the second-degree reckless charge. The trial court also found him guilty of driving while intoxicated (DWI), N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.1 The court sentenced defendant to eight years in prison subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43 - 7.2, for the vehicular homicide conviction. For the DWI conviction, the court suspended defendant's driver's license for one year, and imposed the required fines, penalties, and surcharges. 1 The court found defendant had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 percent. The blood sample also tested positive for benzodiazepines and THC, the marijuana metabolite. Defendant appeals from his conviction of reckless vehicular homicide, contending the trial court erred in not charging the jury with third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide as a lesser-included offense. He also contends his sentence is excessive. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a2801-18
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. JOSE L. REYES
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Jose L. Reyes appeals from a December 20, 2018 Law Division order denying his motion to correct an illegal sentence. We affirm.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a3892-18
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. RONALD J. TAYLOR
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant appeals from a February 22, 2019 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing. We affirm for the reasons expressed in the thorough written decision issued by Judge Mark P. Tarantino.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4098-18
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. PHILIP S. PATRICK
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant, Philip S. Patrick, appeals from an April 16, 2019, order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) without an evidentiary hearing.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: a4445-18
Decided: 2021-02-19
Caption: STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. STANLEY FEGGINS
Status: Unpublished
Summary:
PER CURIAM Defendant Stanley Feggins appeals from an order denying his post- conviction relief (PCR) petition without an evidentiary hearing. Having carefully considered the record, defendant's arguments, and the applicable legal principles, we affirm.

click here to get this case.


Tax Court Cases

Docket No.: 13380-18
Decided: 2021-02-23
Caption: FIFTH THIRD EQUIPMENT FINANCE COMPANY, v. DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF TAXATION,
Summary:
SUNDAR, P.J.T.C. This opinion decides the parties' respective summary judgment motions as to whether defendant (Taxation) properly granted only a portion of plaintiff's refund claim of Corporation Business Tax (CBT) for tax years 2010-2012. Most of the refund claim was based on plaintiff's methodology of carrying forward net operating losses (NOL) from tax years 1999-2002 pursuant to N.J.S.A. 54:10A-4(k)(6)(E) (hereinafter Subparagraph E). This statute disallowed a deduction of NOL carryovers for tax years 2002-2005 (100% for 2002 and 2003, 50% for 2004 and 2005), but also extended the normal seven-year period of the carryover losses for a period commensurate with the suspension period(s) “if and only to the extent” the NOL carryover deduction was disallowed under Subparagraph E.

click here to get this case.


Docket No.: 13411-19
Decided: 2021-02-23
Caption: ANDREW LAURA BOTWIN, v. DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF TAXATION,
Summary:
BIANCO, J.T.C. This shall serve as the court's formal opinion concerning a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant, Director, Division of Taxation (the “Director”) under R. 4:46-2(c), and a subsequent cross-motion entered by plaintiffs, Andrew and Laura Botwin (the “Botwins”).

click here to get this case.