||New Jersey Libertarian Party
Open Government Advocacy Project:
Improper Downgrading in Tenafly Municipal Court
- December 27, 2012
Annmarie Cozzi, Esq.
Senior Assistant Prosecutor
via e-mail only to ACozzi@BCPO.NET
RE: Improper Downgrading in Tenafly Municipal Court
Dear Ms. Cozzi:
On March 9, 2010, you were kind enough to respond to my February 23, 2010 letter complaining that the Bogota municipal prosecutor was downgrading statutory charges to municipal code violations in a manner prohibited by the Attorney General\'s November 18, 1998 Directive. For your ready reference, I have placed both my letter and your response on-line here and here.
A similar problem is present in the Tenafly Municipal Court, as shown by the four pages related to State v. David Li, which are on-line here. The first page shows that Li was, sometime prior to June 20, 2012 (probably June 12, 2012) charged under Complaint-Summons No. 0261-S-2012-00067 with being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10B) and defiant trespassing (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3B(2)), both of which are statutory offenses.
The second page shows that the CDS violation was, on August 15, 2012, resolved by way of a Conditional Discharge application while the defiant trespass charge was amended, at the prosecutor\'s request, to a violation of Tenafly Code Sec. 3-14.1. The third and fourth pages are both sides of Summons-Complaint No. 0261-SC-005585, which was issued to Mr. Li on August 15, 2012--the same day that his plea agreement was negotiated. That summons shows that Mr. Li was charged with violating Tenafly Code Sec. 3-14.1 on June 12, 2012 and assessed fines and costs of $139.
Tenafly Code Sec. 3-14.1 states: http://clerkshq.com/default.ashx?clientsite=Tenafly-nj
Breach of Peace: No person shall conduct himself/herself upon the street or in private places within the Borough in a manner contrary to the provisions of Title 2A of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. (Ord. No. 937 § 2; New)
The thrust of the code provision, which was apparently written prior to the codification of the Criminal Code in Title 2C, is to make any violation of the State\'s penal code also a violation of Tenafly\'s municipal code. Taken to its extreme, Tenafly\'s code section purports to make murder, which is prohibited by N.J.S.A 2C:11-3, to also constitute a municipal code violation.
I cannot imagine a more blatant example of a preempted local code provision than one which attempts to shoehorn New Jersey\'s entire penal code within a single ordinance prohibition. I hope that you will agree, without further elaboration by me, that Sec. 3-14.1 is clearly preempted and that downgrading statutory provisions to it violates the Attorney General\'s directive. So that you don\'t think that Li is an isolated example, I\'ve placed on-line here showing the Tenafly Municipal Court\'s similar treatment of State v. Orero.
Would you please let me know if you will tell Tenafly\'s prosecutor to stop violating the Attorney General\'s directive?
cc. Mayor and Council, Borough of Tenafly
via e-mail to the Borough Clerk at email@example.com
Hon. Roy F. McGeady, P.J.M.C., Bergen County Municipal Court Presiding Judge
via e-mail to Roy.Mcgeady@judiciary.state.nj.us
Hon. Allen M. Bell, J.M.C., Tenafly Municipal Court
via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Fierro, Esq. Municipal Prosecutor
via e-mail to email@example.com
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