On June 24, 2021 the New Jersey Supreme Court decided the case of J.K. v. New Jersey State Parole Board. This was a “per curiam” opinion, as was the lower court’s Appellate Division decision. “Per curiam” opinions are said to involve such a straightforward application of the law to the facts that an individual judge has no basis to apply their own analysis. “Per curiam” opinions have increasingly been used at the state and federal levels for cases in which an individual judge does not wish to attach their name. A famous example is the U.S. Supreme Court case of Bush v. Gore. There, because the case was s so politically charged, it was likely decided that the Supreme Court should give the appearance of a straightforward decision as opposed to one influenced by politics.
The Court wrote in relevant part: In this appeal, the Court reviews the New Jersey State Parole Board’s (Parole Board or Board) second denial of J.K.’s petition for permission to change his residency from New Jersey back to his home country of Poland, where he also holds citizenship, while remaining under Community Supervision for Life (CSL). J.K. was sentenced to CSL in 2005. In 2015, J.K. filed a petition with the Parole Board seeking to return to Poland while remaining under the supervision of the Board. The Board denied J.K.’s petition. The Appellate Division reversed, holding that the Board “failed to consider whether it could supervise or monitor J.K.’s compliance with the conditions of CSL or impose special conditions if he was permitted to relocate.” Following the Appellate Division’s order, the Board requested from J.K. an updated transfer application that should include certifications/affidavits of the parties who intended to provide J.K. with a residence and who intended to offer him employment. The Board also requested that J.K. explain how his supervision could be maintained in “such areas as reporting, change of residence, change of employment, counseling, urine monitoring, notification of an arrest and travel outside of Poland.” The Board also asked for an English translation of any documents written in Polish. When J.K. submitted a second transfer application, the Board alerted him that his application was missing the requested documentation. J.K. refused to provide the requested material, and his counsel asserted that J.K.’s “application cannot be deficient in the absence of governing regulations and associated guidelines that stipulate the required contents of such an application.”
A two-member Board panel denied J.K.’s transfer application, and the denial was affirmed on appeal. The Court granted certification. 242 N.J. 508 (2020).