On July 1, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court has entered an Order regarding automated processes for dismissal, vacating, and expungement of certain marijuana and hashish cases involving offenses enumerated in the Marijuana Decriminalization Law, L.2021, c. 19.
The Supreme Court by the attached order provides for the dismissal, vacating, and expungement of certain marijuana and hashish cases involving offenses enumerated in the Marijuana Decriminalization Law, L. 2021, c. 19 (codified in relevant part at N.J.S.A. 2C:35-23.1 and N.J.S.A. 2C:52-6. l). Approximately 360,000 cases in the Superior Court (Criminal and Family) and in the Municipal Courts potentially fall within this statutory direction. The Court’s Order sets out in detail the statutory criteria for determining those cases to which the automated processes apply. Technological modifications are being made to a number of the Judiciary’s case management systems to enable implementation of the automated processes for these eligible cases as expeditiously as possible. The Court’s order also provides for a process for handling cases not captured by the automated processes via a motion to dismiss or vacate (depending on the status of the case) brought to the court (Superior Court or Municipal Court) that had jurisdiction over the case, or by individual expungement petition to the Superior Court.
A process to address inquiries from individuals as to whether their particular case has been expunged pursuant to the provisions of the Order and 1 to receive a certification of such expungement is currently being developed. This process for expungement inquiry and certification will be announced to the public upon completion of the automated processes set forth in the Order.
The referenced process will likely take years to complete given the estimated number of affected cases. Even then, many eligible cases are likely to be missed due to human error in isolating eligible cases. Additional cases will be missed due to human error in the past recording of the dispositions.
Delays are going to be exacerbated further by the extreme backlog and lack of manpower needed to remedy the delays in the disposition of tens of thousands of cases due to the pandemic.