Bill Text: NJ A4321 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Establishes procedures for appointment of municipal court officers; expands authority of special law enforcement officers.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-07-30 - Introduced, Referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee [A4321 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-A4321-Introduced.html

ASSEMBLY, No. 4321

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JULY 30, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  HOLLY T. SCHEPISI

District 39 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes procedures for appointment of municipal court officers; expands authority of special law enforcement officers.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act concerning municipal court, amending various parts of the statutory law and supplementing Title 2B of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    N.J.S.2B:12-10 is amended to read as follows:

     2B:12-10.   Municipal court administrator, municipal court officer, and personnel.   a.               A county or municipality shall provide for an administrator, a municipal court officer, and other necessary employees for the municipal court and for their compensation.  With approval of the Supreme Court, an employee of the county or municipality, in addition to other duties, may be designated to serve as administrator of the municipal court.

     b.    The judge of a municipal court may designate in writing an acting administrator or deputy administrator to serve temporarily for an absent administrator or deputy administrator until the absent administrator or deputy administrator returns or a new administrator or deputy administrator is appointed.  The acting administrator or acting deputy administrator shall be paid at a rate established by the judge but not exceeding that established for the administrator or deputy administrator.

(cf: P.L.1996, c.95, s.9)

 

     2.    N.J.S.2B:12-14 is amended to read as follows:

     2B:12-14.   Officers empowered to execute process.  Any law enforcement officer, municipal court officer, or any other person authorized by law, may act in the service, execution and return of process, orders, warrants and judgments issued by any municipal court. 

(cf: N.J.S.2B:12-14)

 

     3.    N.J.S.2B:12-21 is amended to read as follows:

     2B:12-21.   Officials authorized to act for court.  a. An administrator or deputy administrator of a municipal court, authorized by a judge of that court, may exercise the power of the municipal court to administer oaths for complaints filed with the municipal court and to issue warrants and summonses.

     b.    A police officer in charge of a police station or a municipal court officer, other than an officer who participated in the arrest of the defendant, may exercise the power of the municipal court to administer oaths for complaints filed with the municipal court.  Any police officer or any municipal court officer may issue summonses related to such complaints and may as authorized by the Rules of [the] Court issue a summons in lieu of an arrest for an offense committed in the officer's presence. 

     c.     The authority of the municipal court to set conditions of pre-trial release may be exercised by an administrator or deputy administrator of a municipal court who is authorized by the judge of that court, or by any police officer in charge of a police station or any municipal court officer, other than an officer who participated in the arrest of the defendant.  The authority may be exercised only in accordance with bail schedules promulgated by the Administrative Office of the Courts or by the municipal court. 

     d.    Except as otherwise provided by the Rules of Court, a person charged with a non-indictable offense shall be released on summons or personal recognizance without unnecessary delay and within 12 hours after arrest unless a judge or court administrator has set the conditions for pretrial release and the conditions remain unmet. 

     e.     A person acting for a municipal court by authority of this section shall immediately file the complaint, warrant, summons or recognizance which was the subject of the action with the municipal court. 

(cf: N.J.S.2B:12-21)

 

      4.   N.J.S.2C:12-1 is amended to read as follows:

      2C:12-1.    Assault. a.      Simple assault.  A person is guilty of assault if he:

     (1)   Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or

     (2)   Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

     (3)   Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.

     Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense unless committed in a fight or scuffle entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly persons offense.

      b.   Aggravated assault.  A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he:

     (1)   Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely or knowingly or under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such injury; or

     (2)   Attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

     (3)   Recklessly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon; or

     (4)   Knowingly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life points a firearm, as defined in subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-1, at or in the direction of another, whether or not the actor believes it to be loaded; or

     (5)   Commits a simple assault as defined in paragraph (1), (2) or (3) of subsection a. of this section upon:

     (a)   Any law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority or because of his status as a law enforcement officer; or

     (b)   Any paid or volunteer fireman acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or otherwise clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of the duties of a fireman; or

     (c)   Any person engaged in emergency first-aid or medical services acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or otherwise clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of emergency first-aid or medical services; or

     (d)   Any school board member, school administrator, teacher, school bus driver or other employee of a public or nonpublic school or school board while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as a member or employee of a public or nonpublic school or school board or any school bus driver employed by an operator under contract to a public or nonpublic school or school board while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as a school bus driver; or

     (e)   Any employee of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as an employee of the division; or

     (f)   Any justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Superior Court, judge of the Tax Court or municipal judge while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of judicial duties or because of his status as a member of the judiciary; or

     (g)   Any operator of a motorbus or the operator's supervisor or any employee of a rail passenger service while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties or because of his status as an operator of a motorbus or as the operator's supervisor or as an employee of a rail passenger service; or

     (h)   Any Department of Corrections employee, county corrections officer, juvenile corrections officer, State juvenile facility employee, juvenile detention staff member, juvenile detention officer, probation officer or any sheriff, undersheriff, or sheriff's officer, or municipal court officer acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority or because of his status as a Department of Corrections employee, county corrections officer, juvenile corrections officer, State juvenile facility employee, juvenile detention staff member, juvenile detention officer, probation officer, sheriff, undersheriff, or sheriff's officer or municipal court officer; or

     (i)    Any employee, including any person employed under contract, of a utility company as defined in section 2 of P.L.1971, c.224 (C.2A:42-86) or a cable television company subject to the provisions of the "Cable Television Act," P.L.1972, c.186 (C.48:5A-1 et seq.) while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the performance of his duties in regard to connecting, disconnecting or repairing or attempting to connect, disconnect or repair any gas, electric or water utility, or cable television or telecommunication service; or

     (j)    Any health care worker employed by a licensed health care facility to provide direct patient care, any health care professional licensed or otherwise authorized pursuant to Title 26 or Title 45 of the Revised Statutes to practice a health care profession, except a direct care worker at a State or county psychiatric hospital or State developmental center or veterans' memorial home, while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the duties of providing direct patient care or practicing the health care profession; or

     (k)   Any direct care worker at a State or county psychiatric hospital or State developmental center or veterans' memorial home, while clearly identifiable as being engaged in the duties of providing direct patient care or practicing the health care profession, provided that the actor is not a patient or resident at the facility who is classified by the facility as having a mental illness or developmental disability; or

     (6)   Causes bodily injury to another person while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer in violation of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-2 or while operating a motor vehicle in violation of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:20-10.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a person shall be strictly liable for a violation of this paragraph upon proof of a violation of subsection b. of N.J.S.2C:29-2 or while operating a motor vehicle in violation of subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:20-10 which resulted in bodily injury to another person; or

     (7)   Attempts to cause significant bodily injury to another or causes significant bodily injury purposely or knowingly or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life recklessly causes such significant bodily injury; or

     (8)   Causes bodily injury by knowingly or purposely starting a fire or causing an explosion in violation of N.J.S.2C:17-1 which results in bodily injury to any emergency services personnel involved in fire suppression activities, rendering emergency medical services resulting from the fire or explosion or rescue operations, or rendering any necessary assistance at the scene of the fire or explosion, including any bodily injury sustained while responding to the scene of a reported fire or explosion.  For purposes of this paragraph, "emergency services personnel" shall include, but not be limited to, any paid or volunteer fireman, any person engaged in emergency first-aid or medical services and any law enforcement officer.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a person shall be strictly liable for a violation of this paragraph upon proof of a violation of N.J.S.2C:17-1 which resulted in bodily injury to any emergency services personnel; or

     (9)   Knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, points or displays a firearm, as defined in subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-1, at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer; or

     (10)    Knowingly points, displays or uses an imitation firearm, as defined in subsection v. of N.J.S.2C:39-1, at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer with the purpose to intimidate, threaten or attempt to put the officer in fear of bodily injury or for any unlawful purpose; or

     (11)    Uses or activates a laser sighting system or device, or a system or device which, in the manner used, would cause a reasonable person to believe that it is a laser sighting system or device, against a law enforcement officer acting in the performance of his duties while in uniform or exhibiting evidence of his authority.  As used in this paragraph, "laser sighting system or device" means any system or device that is integrated with or affixed to a firearm and emits a laser light beam that is used to assist in the sight alignment or aiming of the firearm; or

     (12)    Attempts to cause significant bodily injury or causes significant bodily injury purposely or knowingly or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly causes significant bodily injury to a person who, with respect to the actor, meets the definition of a victim of domestic violence, as defined in subsection d. of section 3 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-19); or

     (13)    Knowingly or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly obstructs the breathing or blood circulation of a person who, with respect to the actor, meets the definition of a victim of domestic violence, as defined in subsection d. of section 3 of P.L.1991, c.261 (C.2C:25-19), by applying pressure on the throat or neck or blocking the nose or mouth of such person, thereby causing or attempting to cause bodily injury.

     Aggravated assault under paragraphs (1) and (6) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the second degree; under paragraphs (2), (7), (9) and (10) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree; under paragraphs (3) and (4) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the fourth degree; and under paragraph (5) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree if the victim suffers bodily injury, otherwise it is a crime of the fourth degree. Aggravated assault under paragraph (8) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree if the victim suffers bodily injury; if the victim suffers significant bodily injury or serious bodily injury it is a crime of the second degree.  Aggravated assault under paragraph (11) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree.  Aggravated assault under paragraph (12) or (13) of subsection b. of this section is a crime of the third degree but the presumption of non-imprisonment set forth in subsection e. of N.J.S.2C:44-1 for a first offense of a crime of the third degree shall not apply.

     c.     (1)     A person is guilty of assault by auto or vessel when the person drives a vehicle or vessel recklessly and causes either serious bodily injury or bodily injury to another.  Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the fourth degree if serious bodily injury results and is a disorderly persons offense if bodily injury results. Proof that the defendant was operating a hand-held wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle in violation of section 1 of P.L.2003, c.310 (C.39:4-97.3) may give rise to an inference that the defendant was driving recklessly.

     (2)   Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person drives the vehicle while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the fourth degree if the person drives the vehicle while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) and bodily injury results.

     (3)   Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the second degree if serious bodily injury results from the defendant operating the auto or vessel while in violation of R.S.39:4-50 or section 2 of P.L.1981, c.512 (C.39:4-50.4a) while:

     (a)   on any school property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board, or within 1,000 feet of such school property;

     (b)   driving through a school crossing as defined in R.S.39:1-1 if the municipality, by ordinance or resolution, has designated the school crossing as such; or

     (c)   driving through a school crossing as defined in R.S.39:1-1 knowing that juveniles are present if the municipality has not designated the school crossing as such by ordinance or resolution.

     Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if bodily injury results from the defendant operating the auto or vessel in violation of this paragraph.

     A map or true copy of a map depicting the location and boundaries of the area on or within 1,000 feet of any property used for school purposes which is owned by or leased to any elementary or secondary school or school board produced pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1987, c.101 (C.2C:35-7) may be used in a prosecution under subparagraph (a) of paragraph (3) of this subsection.

     It shall be no defense to a prosecution for a violation of subparagraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (3) of this subsection that the defendant was unaware that the prohibited conduct took place while on or within 1,000 feet of any school property or while driving through a school crossing.  Nor shall it be a defense to a prosecution under subparagraph (a) or (b) of paragraph (3) of this subsection that no juveniles were present on the school property or crossing zone at the time of the offense or that the school was not in session.

     (4)   Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and serious bodily injury results and is a crime of the fourth degree if the person purposely drives a vehicle in an aggressive manner directed at another vehicle and bodily injury results.  For purposes of this paragraph, "driving a vehicle in an aggressive manner" shall include, but is not limited to, unexpectedly altering the speed of the vehicle, making improper or erratic traffic lane changes, disregarding traffic control devices, failing to yield the right of way, or following another vehicle too closely.

     As used in this subsection, "vessel" means a means of conveyance for travel on water and propelled otherwise than by muscular power.

     d.    A person who is employed by a facility as defined in section 2 of P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-2) who commits a simple assault as defined in paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection a. of this section upon an [institutionalized] elderly person as defined in section 2 of P.L.1977, c.239 (C.52:27G-2) is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

     e.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2001, c.443)[.]

     f.     A person who commits a simple assault as defined in paragraph (1), (2) or (3) of subsection a. of this section in the presence of a child under 16 years of age at a school or community sponsored youth sports event is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.  The defendant shall be strictly liable upon proof that the offense occurred, in fact, in the presence of a child under 16 years of age.  It shall not be a defense that the defendant did not know that the child was present or reasonably believed that the child was 16 years of age or older.  The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to create any liability on the part of a participant in a youth sports event or to abrogate any immunity or defense available to a participant in a youth sports event.  As used in this act, "school or community sponsored youth sports event" means a competition, practice or instructional event involving one or more interscholastic sports teams or youth sports teams organized pursuant to a nonprofit or similar charter or which are member teams in a youth league organized by or affiliated with a county or municipal recreation department and shall not include collegiate, semi-professional or professional sporting events.

(cf: P.L.2017, c.240, s.1)

 

     5.    Section 1 of P.L.1996, c.14 (C.2C:12-11) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    a.   A person who knowingly takes or attempts to exercise unlawful control over a firearm or other weapon in the possession of a law enforcement officer, sheriff's officer, municipal court officer, or corrections officer when that officer is acting in the performance of his duties, and either is in uniform or exhibits evidence of his authority, is guilty of a crime of the second degree.

      b.   A person violating the provisions of subsection a. of this section shall be guilty of a crime of the first degree if:

     (1)   The person fires or discharges the firearm;

     (2)   The person uses or threatens to use the firearm or weapon against the officer or any other person; or

     (3)   The officer or another person suffers serious bodily injury.

(cf: P.L.1996, c.14, s.1)

 

      6.   Section 3 of P.L.1985, c.439 (C.40A:14-146.10) is amended to read as follows:

      3.   a.   Any local unit may, as it deems necessary, appoint special law enforcement officers sufficient to perform the duties and responsibilities permitted by local ordinances authorized by N.J.S.40A:14-118 or ordinance or resolution, as appropriate, authorized by N.J.S.40A:14-106 and within the conditions and limitations as may be established pursuant to this act. 

      b.   A person shall not be appointed as a special law enforcement officer unless the person:

     (1)   Is a resident of this State during the term of appointment;

     (2)   Is able to read, write and speak the English language well and intelligently and has a high school diploma or its equivalent;

     (3)   Is sound in body and of good health;

     (4)   Is of good moral character;

     (5)   Has not been convicted of any offense involving dishonesty or which would make him unfit to perform the duties of his office;

     (6)   Has successfully undergone the same psychological testing that is required of all full-time police officers in the municipality or county or, with regard to a special law enforcement officer hired for a seasonal period by a resort municipality which requires psychological testing of its full-time police officers, has successfully undergone a program of psychological testing approved by the commission.

      c.    Every applicant for the position of special law enforcement officer appointed pursuant to this act shall have fingerprints taken, which fingerprints shall be filed with the Division of State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

      d.   (1)   No person shall be appointed to serve as a special law enforcement officer in more than one local unit at the same time, nor shall any permanent, regularly appointed full-time police officer of any local unit be appointed as a special law enforcement officer in any local unit.  No public official with responsibility for setting law enforcement policy or exercising authority over the budget of the local unit or supervision of the police department of a local unit shall be appointed as a special law enforcement officer. 

     (2)   A special law enforcement officer may be appointed to serve as a municipal court officer pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.      )(pending before the Legislature as this bill). 

      e.    Before any special law enforcement officer is appointed pursuant to this act, the chief of police, or, in the absence of the chief, other chief law enforcement officer of the local unit shall ascertain the eligibility and qualifications of the applicant and report these determinations in writing to the appointing authority. 

      f.    Any person who at any time prior to his appointment had served as a duly qualified, fully-trained, full-time officer in any municipality or county of this State and who was separated from that prior service in good standing, shall be eligible to serve as a special law enforcement officer consistent with guidelines promulgated by the commission.  The training requirements set forth in section 4 of P.L.1985, c.439 (C.40A:14-146.11) may be waived by the commission with regard to any person eligible to be appointed as a special law enforcement officer pursuant to the provisions of this section.

      g.   In addition to the qualifications established in subsection b. of this section, a person shall not be appointed as a Class Three special law enforcement officer unless the person:

     (1)   is a retired law enforcement officer who is less than 65 years of age; for the purposes of this paragraph, a law enforcement officer shall not be considered retired if the officer's return to employment violates any federal or State law or regulation which would deem the officer's retirement as not being bona fide;

     (2)   had served as a duly qualified, fully-trained, full-time officer in any municipality or county of this State or as a member of the State Police and was separated from that prior service in good standing, within three years of appointment, except during the first year following the effective date of P.L.2016, c.68, was separated from that prior service within five years of appointment;

     (3)   is physically capable of performing the functions of the position, determined in accordance with Police Training Commission guidelines;

     (4)   possesses a New Jersey Police Training Commission Basic Police Officer Certification or New Jersey State Police Academy Certification;

     (5)   has completed the training course for safe schools resource officers developed pursuant to subsection a. of section 2 of P.L.2005, c.276 (C.52:17B-71.8); and

     (6)   is hired in a part-time capacity.

     For the purposes of this subsection, "good standing" shall exclude a retirement resulting from injury or incapacity.

(cf: P.L.2016, c.68, s.1)

 

     7.    Section 4 of P.L.1985, c.439 (C.40A:14-146.11) is amended to read as follows:

     4.     a.   A person shall not commence the duties of a special law enforcement officer unless the person has successfully completed a training course approved by the commission and a special law enforcement officer shall not be issued a firearm unless the officer has successfully completed the basic firearms course approved by the commission for permanent, regularly appointed police and annual requalification examinations as required by subsection b. of section 7 of P.L.1985, c.439 (C.40A:14-146.14).  There shall be three classifications for special police officers.  The commission shall prescribe by rule or regulation the training standards to be established for each classification.  Training may be in a commission approved academy or in any other training program which the commission may determine appropriate.  The classifications shall be based upon the duties to be performed by the special law enforcement officer as follows:

     (1)   Class One.  Officers of this class shall be authorized to perform routine traffic detail, spectator control, and similar duties. If authorized by ordinance or resolution, as appropriate, Class One officers shall have the power to issue summonses for disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses, violations of municipal ordinances, and violations of Title 39 of the Revised Statutes. The use of a firearm by an officer of this class shall be strictly prohibited and a Class One officer shall not be assigned any duties which may require the carrying or use of a firearm.

     (2)   Class Two.  Officers of this class shall be authorized to exercise full powers and duties similar to those of a permanent, regularly appointed full-time police officer.  The use of a firearm by an officer of this class may be authorized only after the officer has been fully certified as successfully completing training as prescribed by the commission. Officers of this class may be authorized to be appointed as municipal court officers pursuant to P.L.     , c.       (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     (3)   Class Three.  Officers of this class shall be authorized to exercise full powers and duties similar to those of a permanent, regularly appointed full-time police officer while providing security at a public or nonpublic school or a county college on the school or college premises during hours when the public or nonpublic school or county college is normally in session or when it is occupied by public or nonpublic school or county college students or their teachers or professors.  While on duty in the jurisdiction of employment, an officer may respond to offenses or emergencies off school or college grounds if they occur in the officer's presence while traveling to a school facility or county college, but an officer shall not otherwise be dispatched or dedicated to any assignment off school or college property.

     The use of a firearm by an officer of this class shall be authorized pursuant to the provisions of subsection b. of section 7 of P.L.1985, c.439 (C.40A:14-146.14).  An officer of this class shall not be authorized to carry a firearm while off duty unless the officer complies with the requirements set forth in subsection l. of N.J.S.2C:39-6 authorizing a retired law enforcement officer to carry a handgun.  

     b.    The commission may, in its discretion, except from the requirements of this section any person who demonstrates to the commission's satisfaction that the person has successfully completed a police training course conducted by any federal, state or other public or private agency, the requirements of which are substantially equivalent to the requirements of this act.

     c.     The commission shall certify officers who have satisfactorily completed training programs and issue appropriate certificates to those officers.  The certificate shall clearly state the category of certification for which the officer has been certified by the commission.

     d.    All special law enforcement officers appointed and in service on the effective date of this act may continue in service if within 24 months of the effective date of this act they will have completed all training and certification requirements of this act.

(cf: P.L.2016, c.68, s.2)

 

      8.   (New section)   a.   A municipal court officer, under the direction of the municipal court judge, shall maintain order and security in the courtroom.

      b.   The following individuals shall be eligible to be appointed as municipal court officers:

     (1)   a person who is employed as a permanent full-time member of any State, local, county or municipal law enforcement agency or a sheriff's officer;

     (2)   a person with previous experience as a State, local, county or municipal law enforcement officer or sheriff's officer; or

     (3)   a Class Two special law enforcement officer.

      c.    A municipal court officer shall wear a uniform and display a badge or insignia which would identify him as a municipal court officer while on duty in the municipal court.

 

     9.    This act shall take effect on the 30th day after enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     In 2006 the Administrative Office of the Courts issued directive #15-06 requiring each municipal court to develop and submit a local municipal court security plan to the Assignment Judge of the vicinage. This directive required the Administrative Office of the Courts to communicate with the governing body of each municipality in the State and provide them with advice concerning the Supreme Court's adoption of the Statewide Municipal Court Security policy so that "each governing body is aware of the need to provide support for the local Municipal Court Security Plan."  A component of the plan is the requirement that an armed law enforcement officer be assigned to the courtroom for security.  Currently, municipal courts use local law enforcement officers or State Police to provide security.

     This bill would allow municipalities to appoint municipal court officers, under the direction of the municipal court judge, to maintain order and security in the courtroom.  Under the bill, only the following individuals would be eligible to be appointed as a municipal court officer: (1) a person who is employed as a permanent full-time member of any State, local, county or municipal law enforcement agency or a sheriff's officer; (2) a person with previous experience as a State, local, county or municipal law enforcement officer or sheriff's officer; or (3) a Class Two special law enforcement officer. The person appointed as a municipal court officer would wear a uniform and display a badge or insignia which would identify him as a municipal court officer.

     The bill would also amend various sections of Title 2B to provide that municipal court officers are authorized to serve in municipal court.

     Currently, N.J.S.2B:12-10 provides that a county or municipality may provide for an administrator and any other necessary employees for municipal court proceedings. This bill would amend this section to allow a county or municipality to also provide for a municipal court officer in municipal court. 

     This bill would also amend N.J.S.2B:12-14 to empower the municipal court officer to serve process, warrants and judgments issued by the municipal court. In addition, this bill would amend N.J.S.2B:12-21 to authorize a municipal court officer to administer oaths for complaints filed with the municipal court. The bill would also authorize a municipal court officer to issue summons in lieu of an arrest for an offense committed in the officer's presence. 

     This bill would also amend the Criminal Code to provide municipal court officers with the same protections afforded to law enforcement officers.

     N.J.S.2C:12-1 would be amended to add municipal court officers to the list of individuals who by virtue of their position as public officials or employees are protected under the assault statute. These individuals include law enforcement officers, corrections officers, judges, utility company employees, health care workers, and others.    Under current law, a simple assault committed against such individuals is upgraded to aggravated assault. Under the bill, a simple assault committed against a municipal court officer would also constitute aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is a crime of the third degree if the victim suffers bodily injury; otherwise it is a crime of the fourth degree. A crime of the third degree is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both. A crime of the fourth degree is punishable by a term of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

     N.J.S.A.2C:12-11 would be amended to make it a crime of the second degree to disarm a municipal court officer when that officer is acting in the performance of his duties, and is either in uniform or exhibits evidence of his authority.  Disarming a municipal court officer becomes a crime of the first degree if the person fires or discharges the firearm, uses or threatens to use the firearm against the officer or any other person or the person suffers serious bodily injury.

     In addition, the bill would amend the "Special Law Enforcement Officers' Act," P.L.1985, c.439 (C.40A:14-146.8 et seq.) to allow a municipality to appoint a Class Two special law enforcement officer as a municipal court officer. By doing so, this bill would expand on the 2013 amendment to that law which allowed county police departments to hire special law enforcement officers to perform court security duties in the Superior Court.

     The "Special Law Enforcement Officers' Act" authorizes any local unit to appoint special law enforcement officers. Currently,  there are three classes of special law enforcement officers.  Class One special law enforcement officers are authorized to perform routine traffic detail, spectator control, and similar duties. They may be empowered to issue summonses for disorderly persons offenses, but are not authorized to carry a firearm while on duty.  Class Two special law enforcement officers are empowered to exercise full police powers and perform the duties of a permanent, regularly appointed full-time police officer.  They are authorized to carry a firearm. Class Three special law enforcement officers are retired police officers less than 65 years old who are authorized to provide security at a public or nonpublic school or county college while they are on the school or college premises during hours when the school or college normally is in session or when it is occupied by students or their teachers or professors.

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