Following a trial court's order determining a registrant's tier classification and scope of notification, a registrant may file a notice of appeal with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division. These appeals are filed on an expedited basis using special forms.
The Supreme Court temporarily assigns retired Appellate Division judges serving on recall to the Appellate Division, as a special part to handle appeals from tier classification and notification determinations by the trial courts under the Registration and Community Notification Laws, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 to -23, hereinafter referred to as Megan's Law.
To ensure the expeditious processing and disposition of Megan's Law appeals, the Supreme Court ordered that briefs not be filed in these appeals without leave of court, that the attorney appointed in the trial court will remain the attorney for any appeal, unless relieved by the Appellate Division, that these appeals be considered by the court following oral argument, which oral argument shall be in camera and recorded verbatim. The record in these cases is sealed.
Special forms and procedures for Megan's Law appeals have been developed by the Appellate Division. These forms are available at the Appellate Division Clerk's office, in Trenton, at the chambers of the trial court judges designated to handle Megan's Law matters, and on the internet here. Before an appeal is filed, counsel for appellant should contact the Clerk's office at 609-815-2950 and ask for the staff attorney assigned to Megan's Law appeals. After conferring with the assigned judges, the staff attorney will direct counsel where to serve the notice of appeal, supporting documents and transcripts. There is a $250 filing fee unless the registrant is represented by the Office of the Public Defender, or the filing fee is waived.
The prescribed short form combined notice of appeal and case information statement shall be used in all appeals involving Megan's Law. These cases are identified by the use of the caption "In the Matter of Registrant . . ." (initials are used). A copy of the trial court order must be attached to the notice of appeal.
If there is no emergent application, the appellant submits an original and two copies of the notice of appeal and case information statement, three copies of the transcript, and three copies supporting documents to the Appellate Division clerk's office. A copy of the appeal documents and transcript shall also be served on the prosecutor.
A certified written transcription of the trial court proceedings is required. Following the conclusion of the matter in the trial court, counsel must order the transcript of the Megan's Law conference and hearing. Counsel should contact the court reporter who recorded the proceedings and/or the reporter supervisor for the county as soon as possible to order the transcript and to determine the appropriate cost of same. These transcripts should be prepared on an expedited basis. Contact information for the reporter supervisor for each county is set forth in the Lawyer’s Diary and Manual.
If a trial judge affirms the prosecutor's Tier Two or Three classification and denies a stay of notification pending appeal, it is anticipated that notification will generally take place within a short time. The Supreme Court has decided that trial court notification orders should provide that they will not become effective until the expiration of two full business days from the date of the final order. Therefore, a short form emergent application for a stay of notification to the Appellate Division has been developed. Copies of that form are provided to the trial court judges handling Megan's Law matters, who will make it available to any party wishing to file such an application. The form is also available on the Judiciary's website.
A party wishing to file an emergent application should contact the Appellate Division, Clerk's office in Trenton at 609-815-2950 and ask for the staff attorney assigned to Megan's Law appeals, to obtain the name of the designated Appellate Division Megan’s Law judges. The prescribed form notice of appeal and case information statement and the short form emergent application for stay should be completed by the appellant and copies served on the trial judge and prosecutor. The originals of the forms, along with the transcript of the trial court proceedings, shall be filed with the Clerk's office and a copy delivered to the chambers of the emergent judge, if so directed by the Clerk's office.
The moving party should also provide copies of the following items:
The record on appeal should be bound, numbered consecutively and include a Table of Contents.
The emergent judge reviews the aforesaid record, may listen to any oral argument telephonically outside the presence of the public and may confer with one of the other judges on the special part. At the discretion of the judge(s), the merits of the appeal may be decided at the same time as the emergent application. If the merits of the appeal are going to be so decided, oral argument will be heard telephonically and recorded verbatim. The verbatim record of oral argument will provide an Appellate Division record should either party seek to appeal to the Supreme Court. An order will then be entered disposing of the emergent application and, if applicable, the merits of the appeal.
Megan's Law appeals not disposed of on emergent application will be calendared on an expedited basis. After conferring with the judges, the staff attorney notifies counsel of the date and time of the argument, the names of the assigned judges and the telephone conference number to call. No briefs shall be filed in these appeals without leave of court and they will be argued telephonically which will be recorded verbatim. The verbatim record of oral argument will provide an Appellate Division record should either party seek to appeal to the Supreme Court.
To expedite the disposition of these appeals, they may be concluded by an order without formal written opinion in the discretion of the judges.