14-2-2963 State v. M.G.M ., App. Div. (per curiam) (11 pp.)
Submitted by New Jersey DWI lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
Several years ago the New Jersey legislature created the 4th degree offense under NJSA 2C:20-40-26(b) of driving while suspended as a result of a DWI suspension.
This defendant, once indicted applied for PTI, Pre Trial Intervention. The county prosecutor’s office, all of which have been held to have a great deal of discretion in their PTI programs, denied entry into the program, ultimately which would result in the defendant going to jail for a minimum of 6 months without parole. After his application for admission to the PTI program was denied, he moved to vacate the denial, arguing that the prosecutor was implementing a de facto policy to deny PTI based solely on the charge itself. What this defendant and many others may have forgotten, is that the PTI program is administered exclusively by the prosecutor’s office and the NJ Supreme Court and Appellate Division Court have repeatedly ruled that absent an abuse of discretion, the decision of the County Prosecutor will not be disturbed.
This trial court denied the motion but ordered the State to release redacted copies of all PTI decisions regarding individuals charged with violating N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b), generated as of January 2, 2013. The State was granted leave to appeal that interlocutory order. The panel reverses, noting that a court’s review of the prosecutor’s determination to deny a PTI application is highly deferential, the Supreme Court has held that PTI applicants do not have a license to subpoena prosecutorial files or interrogate prosecutors under oath in order to substantiate claims that they have been accorded less favorable treatment than other similarly situated individuals, and a reviewing court’s scrutiny is generally limited to the justification contained in the statement of reasons. Further, in adopting Rule 1:38-3, the Supreme Court has identified court records that are excluded from public access, cindlugin records relating to participants in PTI.