Group will focus on municipal prosecutors’ powers in marijuana-related offenses
The state attorney general is looking to a diverse group in setting a directive on the powers of municipal prosecutors when it comes to marijuana-related charges and other offenses.
The 20-member group will represent various aspects of criminal justice including prosecutors, attorneys, police, civil rights organizations and community leaders.
The announcement came a week after a report that makes a series of recommendations for policy changes and legislative proposals to promote the fair administration of justice in municipal courts.
Grewal sent a letter to municipal prosecutors around the same time addressing the proper scope of their discretion in marijuana-related cases.
The letter also said a memorandum issued by the Jersey City chief municipal prosecutor announcing a “New Marijuana Decriminalization Policy” was improper use of that authority.
He said the memorandum showed “some municipal prosecutors would benefit from additional guidance about the scope of their discretionary authority, particularly with regard to marijuana offenses.”
He then asked all municipal prosecutors to adjourn any marijuana-related cases until at least Sept. 4.
Grewal is preparing a directive that is expected in August.
“I look forward to hearing from this working group about how we can improve the equal, impartial, and uniform administration of justice in our municipal courts,” Grewal said. “Every day, my department works with criminal justice stakeholders to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This working group will review how the municipal prosecutors under my supervision can contribute responsibly to the progressive solutions we are seeking.”
The group includes state PBA President Pat Colligan, state Municipal Prosecutors’ Association President Annette DePalma, former National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Excutives Jiles H. Ship, Trenton Mayor W. Reed Gusciora and Amol Sinha, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey/
“Chief Justice Rabner has called on New Jersey’s municipal courts to adhere to the Judiciary’s high standards of integrity, independence, and fairness, without regard to any outside pressures,” Grewal said. “The working group that we are establishing today will kick start a parallel review of the scope and appropriate use of prosecutorial discretion in municipal court, including in prosecutions of marijuana offenses.”