This is a status report provided by the New Jersey State Bar Association on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers, as well as the involvement of the NJSBA as amicus in appellate court matters. To learn more, visit njsba.com.
RECENT AMICUS ACTIVITY
The New Jersey State Bar Association sometimes acts as amicus curiae in pending cases before New Jersey and federal courts where issues are believed to affect the legal profession or the system of justice.
In the Matter of Opinion No. 17-2012 of the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics
____ N.J. ____ (2014)
This case questioned whether an attorney, volunteering on behalf of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, can provide pro bono legal services to a debtor in a “no-asset” Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding, if the attorney’s law firm represents a creditor of the debtor in an unrelated matter.
On Jan. 2, the New Jersey State Bar Association filed a motion to participate as amicus curiae along with a proposed brief in the Supreme Court of New Jersey. The brief was drafted by Former NJSBA President Susan A. Feeney, Emily B. Goldberg, and Judah Skoff, all of McCarter & English, LLP. On April 1, Feeney presented oral argument before the Supreme Court on behalf of the New Jersey State Bar Association.
On July 2, the Supreme Court opinion held that Volunteer Lawyers for Justice’s pro bono bankruptcy program does not present a conflict of interest under RPC 1.7. With appropriate safeguards, a volunteer attorney can represent a low-income debtor in a no-asset Chapter 7 bankruptcy matter even if the attorney’s firm represents one or more of the debtor’s creditors in unrelated matters.
To read the NJSBA’s amicus curiae brief and opinion in this and other matters, visit the NJSBA’s website at njsba.com.
NJSBA RECENT ACTION IN TRENTON
Real Property, Trust and Estate Law
A-3444 (McKeon) NJSBA DRAFTED LEGISLATION Clarifies the procedures for resignation, removal, and succession of fiduciaries. On June 23, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee for consideration.
The New Jersey State Bar Association assisted in the drafting of this legislation to clarify and streamline the process for succession and removal of fiduciaries where the governing instrument provides a specific mechanism for doing so. The state bar believes establishing such standards will bring conformity among the state’s counties and valuable guidance to legal practitioners in the state of New Jersey.
PENDING LEGISLATION
Animal Law
S-2259 (Van Drew) Revises the definition of “necessary care” in the state’s animal cruelty law to include more specific requirements. On June 26, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Growth Committee.
Banking Law
A-1784 (McKeon) Exempts certain persons from the licensing requirements of the New Jersey Residential Mortgage Lending Act. On June 26, the bill passed in the Assembly (73-5-1), and on June 30, the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.
S-2081 (Rice) (Under Review) Creates the Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Revolving Trust Fund; places a temporary surcharge on mortgage foreclosure complaints. On June 26, the bill passed in the Senate (22-16) and was received in the Assembly without committee references and is awaiting Assembly vote.
Consumer Protection Law
A-617 (Moriarty) Prohibits sending unsolicited advertising by text message, and requires companies offering text messaging services to allow customers to block all incoming and outgoing text messages. On June 26, the bill passed in the Assembly (79-0-0) and on June 30, the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.
Criminal Law
S-835 (Norcross) Enhances the penalties for false incrimination and making fictitious reports. On June 26, the bill passed in the Senate (38-0), was received in the Assembly and referred to the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
Environmental Law
A-2303 (DeAngelo) Requires certain state departments, divisions, commissions, and authorities to consider the use of a green or blue roof in construction of certain new state buildings, facilities, and structures. On June 26, the bill was substituted for S-1418 (Smith, B.), passed in the Senate (37-2) and was sent to the governor.
Health Law
A-865 (Sumter) Provides for electronic scanning of certain certificates for initiating court proceedings for involuntary commitment. On June 26, the bill was substituted for S-299 (Rice), passed in the Senate (39-0) and was sent to the governor.
Local Government Law
A-470 (Green) Establishes the New Jersey Residential Foreclosure Transformation Act. On June 26, the bill passed in the Assembly (47-31-1) and on June 30, the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
Military Law and Veterans Affairs
S-1325 (Van Drew) Authorizes property tax deferment for deployed military personnel. On June 26, the bill was released from the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee and referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
Minorities in the Profession
A-1999 (Watson Coleman) Establishes the Opportunity to Compete Act; establishes certain employment rights for individuals with a criminal record. On June 26, the bill passed in the Assembly (41-35-1), was received in the Senate where it was amended on the floor (25-2) and substituted for S-2124 (Cunningham). The bill passed in the Senate (32-1) and was sent to the Assembly to concur with the Senate amendments, where it passed again in the Assembly (49-24-0) and was sent to the governor.
School Law
S-1857 (Codey) Establishes measures to deter steroid use among students. On June 30, the bill passed in the Senate (36-0) and was sent to the governor.
Workers’ Compensation
S-374 (Scutari) Concerns attorney fees for workers’ compensation awards. On June 30, the bill passed in the Senate (23-12).
NEW JERSEY LAW REVISION COMMISSION
The New Jersey Law Revision Commission will meet on Thursday, July 17. The following items are listed on the agenda and will be considered at that time:
1. Title 9—Children; Abused, Neglected and Dependent Children—Further consideration of a draft final report and memorandum with comments from the Department of Children and Families and the Office of Law Guardian.
2. Underground Facility Protection Act, N.J.S. 48:2-80 subsection d.—Consideration of a draft final report incorporating revisions authorized at the last commission meeting.
3. Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act—Consideration of a memorandum proposing a potential project clarifying statutory language in response to In re New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Conditional Highlands Applicability Determination, Program Interest No. 435434. Memo.
4. Long-Term Capacity Pilot Project Act (LCAPP)—Consideration of a memorandum proposing a potential project amending the LCAPP in response to the recent federal district court decision in PPL Energy Plus, LLC v. Hanna.
5. Clarification of Tenure Issues—Consideration of a memorandum proposing a potential project that arose as the result of three cases interpreting the language of N.J.S. 18A:17-2, including DiNapoli v. Board of Education of the Township of Verona.
6. Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking—Consideration of a memorandum regarding the incorporation of certain Uniform Act provisions into New Jersey law.
7. Uniform Protection of Genetic Information in Employment Act—Consideration of a draft tentative report proposing revisions to existing New Jersey law in response to the Uniform Protection of Genetic Information in Employment Act.
8. Tuition Aid Grant Act—Memorandum recommending the conclusion of the work of the commission in this area in light of legislative action.
For more information on each report/memorandum, please visit www.njlrc.org