On January 17, 2023, Administrative Directive 01-23 was issued. It promulgates a revised list of legal rejection codes used in eCourts for Recovery Court. The updated list limits the reasons for rejection from admission into the program to those specifically set forth in the statute (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14a) or Recovery Court manual.
The existing codes had remained largely unchanged since the inception of the then Drug Court program in 2002. The updated list limits the reasons for legal rejections to those specifically set forth either in the statute or in the Recovery Court manual. The revisions more clearly identify the specific reasons for which a potential Recovery Court client is being legally rejected from admission into the program. The current broad rejection reason of “Statute” is being eliminated.
Prosecutors now will be required to indicate whether a case being reviewed is Track One or Track Two. For Track One, the specific permissible rejection reasons are outlined in the statute. For Track Two, the rejection reasons are not from the statute, but rather are from the manual. Eliminated as acceptable legal rejection reasons/codes are those not set forth either in the manual or the statute. For example, clients no longer can be rejected for program admission because they have previously been in the program or because of a “co-defendant issue.” Also, the legal rejection reason of “immigration status” has been made more precise as “immigration detainer.” By making these reasons for legal rejections more specific and more directly tied to the provisions of the statute or the manual, Recovery Court will be able to better monitor and identify any equity issues in the application and admission process.
The revised list of rejection codes reads as follows:
1. Track One – Prior violent conviction bar- N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14a(7)
a. T1 Prior violent conviction bar
b. T1 Prior Violent
2. Track One – Two or more prior convictions – N.J.S.A. 2C:35-14a(6)
a. T1 Two or more prior conviction
b. T1 2+ Priors
On its face, it seems that reason 2 would bar most Recovery Court applicants. A closer look at the statute reveals that it is only certain circumstances and first or second-degree prior convictions that act as a bar. The relevant statute reads as follows: “the person has not been previously convicted on two or more separate occasions of crimes of the first or second degree, other than those listed in paragraph (7); or the person has not been previously convicted on two or more separate occasions, where one of the offenses is a crime of the third degree, other than crimes defined in N.J.S. 2C:35-10, and one of the offenses is a crime of the first or second degree.”