Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NJ Supreme Court starts session with a new justice and varying case load

The state Supreme Court this week kicks off its fall session with a docket spiced by cases on everything from what determines a parent and whether wives should testify against their husbands to whether Gov. Chris Christie can limit school superintendent pay and what the legal system should do about a mobster’s hand gesture.
The newest justice, Anne Patterson, will participate in her first oral arguments when the state’s highest court begins hearing cases tomorrow.
Now that four justices and one temporarily assigned appellate judge are women, this is the first time females comprise a majority of the seven-member Supreme Court. And with the departure of Roberto Rivera-Soto, who is Hispanic, it is the first time there are no minority justices since 1994, when James H. Coleman Jr. became the first black on the court.
One of the busiest courts in the country, the justices last year heard 80 arguments, issued 81 opinions and decided 1,854 motions.
This year’s court schedule features a case that will determine whether a woman can be immediately recognized as the mother of a boy conceived with a donor egg and carried by a surrogate.
The Appellate Division in February said because the woman did not give birth and has no genetic connection to the child, she is not considered the mother and would have to legally adopt him.
The woman’s attorney, Donald Cofsky, contends state parentage laws discriminate against women who use certain assisted reproductive technology, saying a husband is always presumed to be the father even if his sperm isn’t used for conception.
"We’re hoping the court will address it and try to get the law to recognize we’re in 2011, not the 1970s," Cofsky said.
The appeals court said the issue is a matter for the Legislature.
The Supreme Court will also tackle a high octane political issue: Christie’s rules limiting school superintendent salaries to a sliding scale based on enrollment, and capping them at $175,000.
The New Jersey Association of School Administrators claims Christie’s rules are unconstitutional because they would change contracts already in effect. The governor’s office says he has the right to set the scale.
North Brunswick attorney Francis McGovern Jr., who regularly attends Rutgers University board of governors meetings, says he can’t wait for his case to hit the high court. McGovern sued the board over closed-door meetings about the school’s athletic department he claims should have been held in public. Rutgers says the private meetings created no harm to the public because the board took no action at them. An appeals court agreed with McGovern.
patterson.JPGSupreme Court Justice Anne Murray Patterson(left) takes her oath of office from Chief Justice Stuart Rabner(right) while her husband James Patterson(center) watches. She joins the supreme court, which starts their session tomorrow.
"I hope the Supreme Court affirms its tradition of openness in government rather than what my experience has been with Rutgers University," he said.
The top court also will have to decide whether a woman will be required to testify against her husband, a Springfield sports medicine physician accused of sexually assaulting his future sister-in-law. In a ruling last year, the Appellate Division said the wife of James Mauti should be protected under the spousal testimony privilege because prosecutors have other ways to obtain the information she would offer to a jury. Prosecutors say the wife, Jeannette Mauti, should be forced to testify because she has the most direct knowledge of what happened.
The question of whether internet postings accusing a private person of sexual assault is defamation that warrants monetary damages will also be addressed by the court.
The internet libel case involves a former New Jersey man who accused his uncle of repeatedly sexually assaulting him as a minor. The nephew is appealing an appellate court’s ruling upholding a damage claim of more than $100,000 against him for putting details of the litigation on a website.
And in the case of reputed mobster Aurelio "Ray" Cagno, sentenced to life in prison for the 1993 murder of James Randazzo, the justices are being asked to decide whether a detective should have been allowed to testify about gestures made by Salvatore Lombardino, a trial witness.
In Cagno’s 2002 retrial, Monmouth County prosecutors claimed Lombardino’s "thumbs-up" hand signal and his smile to Cagno after refusing to testify against him was evidence of a conspiracy between the two alleged members of the Colombo crime family.



Post a Comment