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Monday, July 23, 2007

NJ Laws Newsletter E246 May 25, 2007

1. Property Tax Relief explanation
2. Fireman & Police Now Have Right to Bring Claim if Injured Due to Negligence
3. Defendant Can Contest Lab Reports As Hearsay. State v. Kent
4. Alibi Rule Infringes on Defendant's Rights. State v. Bradshaw

1. Property Tax Relief explanation

By: Christopher D. Reedy, Esquire

Governor John Corzine signed legislation that is aimed at providing relief to New Jersey’s staggering property tax crisis.

This legislation is intended to provide property tax relief to 1.9 million homeowners and 800,000 tenants. The property tax relief comes in the form of either a rebate or a tax credit. The new program will replace the former Property Tax Rebate program that was currently in place. The plan breaks down as follows:

• Households that have an income up to $100,000.00 will receive a 20% break in their property taxes, with the maximum being $2,000.00.

• Households that have an income between $100,000.00 and $150,000.00 will receive a 15% break in their property taxes, with the maximum being $1,500.00.

• Households that have an income between $150,000.00 and $250,000.00 will receive a 10% break in their property taxes, with the maximum being $1,000.00.

• Households with an income of over $250,000.00 will receive no break.

It is anticipated that this new program will raise the average savings of homeowners significantly, sometimes tripling or quadrupling the savings that a homeowner would receive under the previous rebate program. Individuals over the age of 65 are guaranteed to receive at least as much as they received under the previous program, however, many will receive more than they did previously.

Individuals over the age of 65 will have the choice of either receiving a tax credit or they can receive a rebate. While rebate checks will be given this year, individuals over the age of 65 must specifically request it if they want to continue receiving rebates. Individuals under the age of 65 will receive a tax credit, unless extraordinary circumstances apply. While this program is replacing the previous rebate program, it does not appear that there is any change to the Senior Citizens deduction or the Veteran’s deduction that many people receive.

In addition to providing immediate tax relief, the legislation seeks to stem the ever growing rise in New Jersey property taxes by implementing a 4% property tax levy cap on school districts and all county and local governments. If any of these organizations wish to exceed the 4% tax levy cap, they must submit a proposal which must seek voter approval.

2007 Property Tax Reform at a glance


Under $100,000/00



$100,000.00 - $150,000.00



$150,000.00 - $250,000.00



Over $250,000.00



For more information, contact Begley & Bookbinder, P.C. an Elder & Disability Law Firm with offices in Moorestown, Stone Harbor and Lawrenceville, New Jersey and can be contacted at 800-533-7227. The firm services southern and central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

2. Fireman & Police Now Have Right to Bring Claim if Injured Due to Negligence

Ruiz v. Mero 189 NJ 525 (2007). N.J.S.A. 2A: 62A-21 abolished the firefighter’s rule. First responders may recover damages from a property owner for any injury sustained when answering an emergency.

NJ Personal Injury Blog

3. Defendant Can Contest Lab Reports As Hearsay.

State v. Kent ___ NJ Super. ___ (App. Div. Decided March 22, 2007) A-3137-05T1.
Defendant was convicted of DWI following a single-car rollover accident, and the Law Division affirmed his conviction. At the municipal trial, the State placed into evidence, among other proofs, (1) a blood sample certificate pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A: 62A-11 from a private hospital employee who had extracted blood from defendant and (2) reports from a State Police laboratory that had tested the blood samples. The authors of those hearsay documents did not appear at trial.

The court reaffirms the holdings in State v. Renshaw, 390 N.J. Super. 456 (App. Div. 2007) (regarding blood sample certificates) and in State v. Berezansky, 385 N.J. Super. 84 (App. Div. 2006) (regarding State Police laboratory reports) concluding that the hearsay documents are "testimonial" under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004), and that defendant was thus deprived of his right of confrontation under the Sixth Amendment.

However the court, also noted that, unless our Supreme Court determines otherwise, the confrontation clause of Article I, Paragraph 10 of the New Jersey Constitution does not appear to independently require such cross-examination beyond current federal precedents interpreting the Sixth Amendment. Additionally, the court recommends that legislative and/or rule-making initiatives be pursued to avoid placing undue testimonial burdens on health care workers and law enforcement personnel who may create documents relevant to drunk driving prosecutions.

Defendant's DWI conviction is affirmed on independent grounds, based upon the arresting officer's numerous observations indicative of defendant's intoxication, and defendant's admission of drinking.

NJ Traffic Law Blog

4. Alibi Rule Infringes on Defendant's Rights

State v. Bradshaw ___ NJ Super. ___ (App. Div. Decided April 2, 2007) A-4731-02T4.
The court held that the application of the notice of alibi rule, R. 3:12-2, to bar a defendant's own testimony as to his whereabouts at the time of a crime, because of his failure to comply with the rule, unconstitutionally infringes on defendant's state and federal right to testify, a right emanating from the due process and compulsory process guarantees. The court disagreed with contrary rulings in State v. Francis, 128 NJ Super. 346 (App. Div. 1974), and State v. Gonzalez, 223 NJ Super. 377 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 111 NJ 589 (1988). Combined with a highly objectionable summation by the prosecutor, the error was not harmless. A new trial is required.

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