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Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.” These are words that have never been heard in a driving under the influence (DUI) trial in a New Jersey courtroom. Yet, this may be about to change. In a rare grant of certiorari, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal in State v. Denelsbeck, notwithstanding the fact that the Appellate Division decision was unpublished and there was no dissent. The issue is whether defendants charged with third and subsequent DUI offenses are entitled to jury trials under New Jersey law.

If the court finds that the significant financial penalties along with confinement in excess of 180 days is sufficient to entitle defendant to a trial by jury, it could create a rule pursuant to the New Jersey Constitution providing jury trials for defendants. N.J. Const. art VI §2, par. 3 provides, “the Supreme Court makes rules governing the administration of all courts in the state and, subject to the law, the practice and procedure in all such courts… .”

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