This is a status report from the New Jersey State Bar Association on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers. Visit njsba.com for current and past editions of the Capitol Report.
The New Jersey State Bar Association recognizes all the members who assist in the ongoing legislative development.
ACTION IN TRENTON
(Eustace) (Support) (NJSBA-Drafted Bill) – Bans charging workers’ compensation claimants for medical expenses, gives Division of Workers’ Compensation sole jurisdiction over work-related medical claims. On Oct. 4, the bill was substituted for S-1926/S-2022 and passed in the Senate and referred for gubernatorial action. The New Jersey State Bar Association participated in drafting this important bill.
Presently, medical providers require injured workers to sign documents upon their first appearance at the physician’s office, wherein the patient/injured worker agrees to pay medical fees to the medical provider above and beyond those fees agreed upon between the medical provider and the respondent/insurance carrier. This bill would put an end to this practice.
Additionally, the bill specifically designates the Workers’ Compensation Court as the sole forum for resolution of medical provider issues in work-related medical claims. This is appropriate, as the Workers’ Compensation Court is the court of original jurisdiction and the court with the expertise to best address these issues.
(Gusciora) (Support with Amendments) – Establishes conditional dismissal program in municipal court; alters eligibility requirements and increases fees for existing conditional discharge and supervisory treatment programs. On Oct. 4, the bill was substituted for S-2169 and was passed in the Senate (38-0).
The New Jersey State Bar Association supports this bill with amendments because it will fix a long standing inequity in the municipal court system. Presently, pre-trial intervention (PTI) is only allowed for indictable offenses. The association strongly supports creating an alternative such as conditional discharge to address these circumstances.
Finally, the NJSBA believes that Section 5 of the bill should be amended to read “shall terminate” rather than “may terminate”. This is important to make it clear that the failure to abide by the conditions of the conditional discharge program will result in termination of the program’s benefits.
ON THE GOVERNOR’S DESK
(Eustace) – Prohibits health care facilities from discharging prescription medications into sewer or septic systems in certain circumstances. On Oct. 4, the bill was substituted for S-81 and passed in the Senate (36-0).
(Burzichelli) – Requires the Board of Public Utilities, under certain circumstances, to issue a decision within 180 days after receipt of petition by public utilities to sell certain real property. On Oct. 4, the bill was substituted for S-2200 and passed in the Senate (38-0).
(Milam) – Allows license suspension or revocation of certain health care professionals and medical waste facilities, generators, and transporters for willful illegal or improper medical waste disposal. On Oct. 4, the bill was substituted for S-2190 and was passed by the Senate (38-0).
(Kean) – Revises penalties for animal cruelty, increasing degree of certain offenses; designated as Patrick’s Law. On Oct. 4, the bill was adopted with floor amendments in the Senate, and sent to the Senate for second reading (34-0).
(Gill) – Repeals and replaces Chapters one and seven of the Uniform Commercial Code and revises various additional provisions of the code. On Oct. 4, the bill was adopted with floor amendments in the Senate and sent for a second reading (35-0).
(Allen) – Enacts the “Jessica Lunsford Act;” imposes mandatory term of 25 years to life for aggravated sexual assault against a child under 13 and increases penalties for harboring certain sex offenders. On Oct. 4, the Senate passed the bill (31-0).
(Norcross) – Enhances penalties for false incrimination and making fictitious reports. On Oct. 4, the Senate passed the bill (36-0).
(Singer) – Establishes bill of rights for continuing care retirement community residents. On Oct. 4, the Senate passed the bill (36-0).
Labor & Employment Law
(Burzichelli) – Prohibits requirement to disclose user name, password, or other means for accessing account or service through electronic communications device by employers. On Oct. 4, the bill was adopted in the Senate with floor amendments and sent for second reading (28-0).
(Madden) – Provides surviving spouses of certain fire and police personnel who die in line of duty with workers’ compensation for the entire period of survivorship. On Oct. 4, the Senate passed the bill (35-0).
Real Property, Trust & Estate Law
(Van Drew) (oppose) – Establishes real property assessment demonstration program. On Oct. 4, the Senate passed the bill (36-0).
The NJSBA acts as
amicus curiae in pending cases before the New Jersey and federal courts where issues are believed to affect the legal profession or the system of justice.
On Oct. 10, the below
amicus case was heard in the New Jersey Supreme Court:
State v. Cahill, Docket No.: 68,727
Question asked: Were defendant’s motor vehicle violations properly dismissed on the basis that he was denied a speedy trial?
The NJSBA respectfully submits that the Court should decide (1) that the Court is free to develop its own standards for speedy trial in accord with its rulemaking authority via the New Jersey Constitution as long as not violative of the minimum standards guaranteed by the United States Supreme Constitution, (2) that municipal court speedy trial violations should be generally decided by reference to the length of delay and the reasons for delay, presuming prejudice to the defendant and without requiring an assertion of the right to a speedy trial, and (3) that, in any event, the Appellate Division was correct in affirming the dismissal of the DWI in this case for lack o0f a speedy trial since the delay was inordinate, was caused solely by the state, and since defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial and was prejudiced by the delay.
The NJSBA would like to acknowledge Jeffrey Evan Gold who argued the matter on the association’s behalf.
Petition for Review of the Letter Decision of the Committee on Attorney Advertising, Docket No.: 47-2007. Docket No.: 62,134
Question asked: Can a mediation center that employs attorneys who also perform legal services use the name “Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation” followed by the name of the attorney who is the managing partner consistent with RPC 7.1 and RPC 7.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct?
The NJSBA feels strongly that the current rules governing law firm names have worked well over the years to bar law firm names that might be misleading to consumers and that the current rules are well understood by those whom they apply. In addition, the NJSBA believes that current rule adequately accomplishes the necessary regulation of the law firm names and any changes are unnecessary. The NJSBA takes no position as to whether the current rules should apply to petitioner, given their description of the services they provide.
The NJSBA would like to acknowledge David B. Rubin for his efforts in preparing the brief and participating in oral argument.