PTI appeals shall be brought within 10 days after receipt of the rejection notice. R. 3:28, Guideline 6. The time limits for processing P.T.I. applications are designed to facilitate speedy trials and to enable the complete processing of a defendant’s application before the pretrial conference. R. 3:28, Official Comment to Guideline 6.
It would be an injustice to deny an applicant PTI due to his prior attorney’s refusal to bring the instant appeal. See State v. Marrero, 155 N.J. Super. 567 (App. Div. 1978)(holding that an applicant should not be deprived of PTI admission for reasons of counsel’s technical errors). Moreover, PTI Guideline 6 is designed to protect an applicant’s speedy trial rights and the interests of all parties in reaching a PTI decision before the pretrial conference. Since PTI Guideline 6 is designed to protect the applicant’s rights, it would be counterproductive to use the guideline to deny him PTI.
Therefore, when faced with a time bar, it makes sense for an applicant to waive any speedy trial claim relating to the delay in prosecuting the PTI appeal. It should also be noted that a PTI appeal rarely results in a delay of the the ultimate disposition of a case. In fact, a PTI appeal will often contribute to the efficient disposition of the case since it may convince the PTI Director, Prosecutor, and/or the Court to allow entry into PTI and thereby avoid additional motion practice, status conferences, and a possible trial.
Since a final PTI decision will be made well in advance of any pretrial conference, deciding an appeal on the merits does not infringe upon the rights of any party. The bases for the “ten days to appeal” guideline are almost always inapplicable, and the interests of justice would most often be served by deciding the appeal on the merits. Lastly, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(e) calls for defendants to be referred to the PTI program “at any time prior to trial.” This statutory provision controls over the Court Rules. State v. T.A.B., 228 N.J. Super. 572, 575-576 (Law Div. 1988).