“Each County Prosecutor and the Division of Criminal Justice shall establish a system of on call assistant prosecutors and deputy attorneys general to be available on a 24/7 basis to provide real time legal advice and charging approvals to law enforcement officers pursuant to this Directive 6″
“6As used in Sections 3 and 4 of this Directive, the term “assistant prosecutor” may include a prosecutor’s agent or other employee of the County Prosecutor’ s office who has been specifically designated in writing by the County Prosecutor to perform on-call legal advice, review, and approval functions pursuant to Sections 3 and 4 of this Directive. As used throughout this Directive, the term “deputy attorneys general” includes assistant attorneys general in the Division of Criminal Justice. All assistant prosecutors and deputy attorneys general assigned to on-call duty pursuant to this Directive shall have sufficient experience to perform the functions required for on-call duty, and shall receive training in accordance with Section 14 of this Directive. Advice and charging approvals may be provided by on-call assistant prosecutors and deputy attorneys general in person or by means of telephonic or other electronic communication. The County Prosecutor shall make contact information and procedures available to all agencies operating within the prosecutor’s jurisdiction. The Director may specify the circumstances when a law enforcement agency or officer should directly contact the Division of Criminal Justice rather than a County Prosecutor’s Office.”
It is surprising that although the plain language of the Directive calls for a “system of on-call assistant prosecutors and deputy attorneys general”, i.e. licensed attorneys with specific training regarding New Jersey’s Criminal Code, to review and approve charging decisions, the footnote provides otherwise. In particular it states that county prosecutors can delegate the provision of “legal advice and charging approvals” to non-lawyers employed by a county prosecutor’s office. This is particularly surprising given that practicing law without a license is obviously illegal in New Jersey. Therefore, you would expect a more cautious approach from the Office of the Attorney General, i.e. the state’s chief law enforcement officer. Even more interesting is that while the Attorney General would permit county prosecutors to delegate these responsible to non-lawyers, the Attorney General does not permit such delegation within his own office.