Case: In the Matter of the Request to Commute or Suspend County Jail Sentences

20-84230 | New Jersey state trial court

Filed Date: March 19, 2020

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

COVID-19 Summary: This is an emergency order by the New Jersey Supreme Court, temporarily releasing about 1,000 pepole serving time in county jails. This case involves the release of individuals held in New Jersey jails during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency on March 9, 2020 due to the threat of COVID-19 to public health and safety. On March 19, the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender wrote to the Supreme Court of New Jersey, reques…

COVID-19 Summary: This is an emergency order by the New Jersey Supreme Court, temporarily releasing about 1,000 pepole serving time in county jails.


This case involves the release of individuals held in New Jersey jails during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency on March 9, 2020 due to the threat of COVID-19 to public health and safety. On March 19, the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender wrote to the Supreme Court of New Jersey, requesting the Court to consider commuting or suspending the sentences of individuals serving time in county jails as part of their probation or because of a municipal court conviction.

A group of criminal justice organizations, including both the Office of the Public Defender and the ACLU of New Jersey, created a proposed order that would temporarily release up to 1,000 people incarcerated in county jails in hopes of reducing the spread of the virus within the jail system. The order’s proponents then conducted mediation with the Office of the Attorney General and the County Prosecutors Association before Judge Philip S. Carchman.

On March 22, 2020, the Supreme Court of New Jersey approved the proposed order, requiring the release of a designated set of incarcerated persons from county jail by 6:00 am on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. 2020 WL 2831186. This group would include individuals serving a county jail sentence either as a condition of probation or as the result of a municipal court order. The remaining individuals in the custody of county jails—except for individuals whose release was objected to by either the County Prosecutors or the Attorney General—would be released on Thursday, March 26, 2020. The order provided additional stipulations, such as requiring that all incarcerated persons who either tested positive for COVID-19 or displayed symptoms be isolated and not released and establishing special procedures for individuals connected with cases of domestic violence. It also suspended outstanding warrants for all but the most serious crimes.

The jail sentences would be suspended until the end of the Public Health Emergency in the state of New Jersey.

On March 23, 2020, the court amended its consent order to add in procedures for inmates who lacked a safe place to go upon release.

Summary Authors

Elizabeth Helpling (6/14/2020)

People


Judge(s)

Rabner, Stuart (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Krakora, Joseph E (New Jersey)

Shalom, Alexander (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Grewal, Gurbir S. (New Jersey)

Onofri, Angelo J (New Jersey)

Judge(s)

Rabner, Stuart (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Krakora, Joseph E (New Jersey)

Shalom, Alexander (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Grewal, Gurbir S. (New Jersey)

Onofri, Angelo J (New Jersey)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Consent Order

New Jersey state supreme court

228 A.3d 1234, 2020 WL 2832385

March 22, 2020 Order/Opinion

Amended Consent Order

New Jersey state supreme court

March 23, 2020 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

In the Matter of the Request to Commute or Suspend County Jail Sentences

Stuart Rabner, Supreme Court of New Jersey

Order granting temporary release of individuals incarcerated in county jail during COVID-19 crisis. March 22, 2020 https://www.aclu-nj.org/files/5415/8496/4744/2020.03.22_-_Consent_Order_Filed_Stamped_Copy-1.pdf

1,000 Inmates Will Be Released From N.J. Jails to Curb Coronavirus Risk

Tracey Tully

Article describing the Supreme Court of New Jersey's order authorizing the release of individuals from county jail in response to the COVID-19 threat. March 25, 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/nyregion/coronavirus-nj-inmates-release.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New Jersey

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 19, 2020

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Office of the Public Defender and ACLU-NJ on behalf of individuals incarcerated in county jail.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

State Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Special Case Type(s):

Appellate Court is initial court

Non-court arbitration/mediation

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Issues

COVID-19:

Mitigation Granted

Mitigation Requested

Population reduction/cap

Release Granted

Release granted-group

Release-process created/modified

Release Requested