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Help! I want to interpret a municipal court disposition letter in order to know if a trial was ever heard for that complaint.

Maplewood, NJ |

I'm trying to request a transcript and/or audio of a trial or hearing (I don't know which one it is ), which may have been heard in municipal court for a traffic ticket. The court administrator has gone out of his way to roadblock my efforts at obtaining this public record. Without getting into lengthy detail of this staff's unethical conduct, I was ultimately told that no audio exists because it was not heard in a court room and that it may have been a hearing and not a trial (he is the only person that they allow me to speak to regarding this case).

The disposition letter for this case indicates that the defendant plead "Not Guilty," but was found "Guilty." There was also an interested party listed. Does this mean there was a trial? If not, aren't hearings typically recorded as well?

Also, the municipal court records indicate that bail was posted for this defendant on May 8 (they never showed up for the original court date in February and a warrant was issued).The warrant was recalled on May 8, but findings were entered on May 2. How is this possible? I can't get a straight answer from anyone in the courthouse! The defendant's initial charge was later downgraded from 39:4-129 to 39:4-130. How could they do this without standing in a court room and plea not guilty? The records indicate that there was a presiding judge and a witness (or interested party), even with a plea bargain, how is it even possible that nothing took place in the court room or even through video conferencing while incarcerated?

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Attorney answers 2

Best Answer
Posted

Please tell me what your interest is in this. Why do you care what happened to someone else?

A response to a question posted on Avvo is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is informational only. Allan E. Richardson, Esq. arichardson@employmentlaw-nj.com Richardson, Galella & Austermuhl 142 Emerson ST., Woodbury, NJ 08096 856-579-7045.

Asker

Posted

because i was injured as a result of the defendant's actions... would you know the answer to my question, though?

Allan E Richardson

Allan E Richardson

Posted

Generally, traffic offenses in New Jersey are decided in municipal court. All proceedings in court are supposed to be recorded. There should be a recording of this incident. It is highly likely that there was not a trial because the overwhelming majority of muni court incidents are plea-bargained. There still should be a recording of the guilty plea and you should be able to get a copy of it by requesting it (and paying for it). If the local court administrator won't cooperate, go up the food chain to the judge, the county's presiding municipal court judge, the county assignment judge and, finally, the Administrative Office of the Courts. Somewhere along the line, someone will get you what you want. Since you were injured, I will assume that you have or will file suit. In that case, have your attorney chase this down. Good luck.

Asker

Posted

Last question for you: if I am denied access to this public record under common law, and the municipal ct administrator cannot provide proof (certification from the state) of legal destruction, is this a civil rights violation?

Allan E Richardson

Allan E Richardson

Posted

Not as such. It more likely would be a violation of the Open Public Records Act.

Posted

ask for a certified copy of the municipal court disposition.

Attorney answers to questions are for general purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. There are always specific facts that are important for an attorney to review before providing advice to a Client. In no way should you rely on the response provided herein to conduct your legal affairs on your own. You should always hire an attorney before you rely on advice provided.

Asker

Posted

As I've mentioned, I do have the disposition letter, but it doesn't indicate whether case went to trial or it was just a hearing (or even neither)! I needed to know this information because I am requesting audio of the trial/hearing. If there was neither then it would be a moot point. Am I simply spinning my wheels here?