Drug Offenses and Parole Ineligibility (Part 6)

by | Mar 20, 2022 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The Appellate Division concluded with the following in relevant part: It is evident from our discussion that regardless of the particular context, any determination of good cause demands the court’s considered judgment, not some rubber stamp. In State v. Tuminello (1976) the Court provided “a word of guidance” regarding resentencing under Rule 3:21-10(b)(2), permitting a change in sentence to release a defendant from custody based on poor health. Although the rule “contained no specific command that the court set forth its reasons” as does the rule “governing the original imposition of sentence,” see Rule 3:21-4(h), at least some of the underlying policy considerations which favor the furnishing of reasons on sentencing are equally applicable to a change of sentence: to provide an appellate court with the means by which to review a decision on sentencing; and to contribute to uniformity of sentencing.

We do not believe the Court expected that the decisions judges would make on joint motions brought under the Rule required no more than rote recitation of policy judgments made by others. Good cause under the Rule brings into focus the tension between different animating purposes of sentencing in our criminal justice system: finality, sentence uniformity and public safety on one hand; a sentence that considers individual circumstances as to offender and offense on the other. State v. Randolph (2012) (“Defendant is entitled to that individualized consideration during sentencing. In a resentencing, a defendant similarly is entitled to the same full review and explanation of the finding and weighing of aggravating and mitigating factors.”). As we said in other circumstances, specifically whether there was good cause to delay prosecution of a defendant who invoked his rights under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, N.J.S.A. 2A:159A-3(a), “whether good cause exists must be resolved from a consideration of the totality of circumstances in a particular case.” State v. Buhl (App. Div. 1994).

Moving forward, in considering joint motions filed pursuant to the Directive and under the aegis of the Rule, the judge must make individualized determinations of whether good cause exists for the requested relief. The factors we set out in Johnson are a good starting point, but by no means do they close the field to further inquiry by the judge. We reverse and vacate the order under review.

The word “aegis” means “protection”. It originally meant a protective shield or breastplate in Greek mythology.