Pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:58-3d, which governs New Jersey firearm permit appeals, “No formal pleading and no filing fee shall be required as a preliminary to such hearing.” (Emphasis added.)
Despite the above, over the last year, New Jersey’s county courts have been requiring a $50 filing fee “made payable to the Treasurer State of New Jersey” from people wishing to appeal their police chiefs’ denials of firearm permit applications.
The firm of Evan F. Nappen Attorney at Law PC immediately began challenging this practice. However, such matters often take months to finally come to a hearing.
On October 18, 2016, the Nappen Firm completed a case in Ocean County that included this challenge, regarding which the judge agreed and ordered “that the applicant shall be reimbursed the $50.00 filing fee.”
Louis P. Nappen, Esq., who handled the matter for the Firm, stated, ‘“No filing fee’ means ‘no filing fee.’ The law could not be clearer. I applaud the judge for correctly applying the law in this regard.”
The Order was served and, this past week, the Treasury of New Jersey issued the appellant his refund. (As pictured, above.)
“$50 may not seem like a lot,” Nappen continued, “but consider that there are thousands of permit appeals. That money adds up.”
In 1971, in the case Weston v. State, the New Jersey Supreme Court explained:
"The function of the Police Chief as the local administrative official charged with responsibility for the original decision to grant or withhold the firearms purchaser identification card involves largely the exercise of an informal discretion…. So viewed, it follows that the basic justice aimed at by the Legislature in expressly providing for judicial review, can be achieved fairly only by a de novo hearing in the County Court.… Such a judicial review compensates constitutionally for procedural deficiencies before the administrative official."
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the right to keep arms is a fundamental, individual constitutional right belonging to all U.S. citizens.
In this regard, Evan F. Nappen, Esq., stated, “Denial of one’s constitutional rights should not be a cash-cow for the State and something that can be arbitrarily increased to discourage people from exercising the right to keep and bear arms.”
In a brief dated November 7, 2016, submitted in the Appellate case of State v. Lambert, the Office of the Attorney General concedes that New Jersey’s Stun Gun Ban is unconstitutional, stating:
"[T]he State agrees with defendant that New Jersey’s stun-gun statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3h, is unconstitutional in light of Caetano v. Massachusetts, 136 S.Ct. 1027 (2016), and defendant’s conviction under that statute should be vacated in the interests of justice." (See document.)
This position was in response to a brief filed on behalf of Appellant Lambert by Joshua Sanders, Esq., of the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender Appellate Division. (See document.)
In this case, Lambert was charged in 2009 with possession of a stun gun in violation of N.J.S. 2C:39-3h, as well as other non-weapons charges.
Although the appellant did not raise this constitutional issue in his original 2015 plea, the Attorney General confirms in its brief:
"[T]he State agrees with defendant’s reading of United States Supreme Court precedent. To briefly recap Second-Amendment jurisprudence, the United States Supreme Court held that “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 582 (2008), and that this “Second Amendment right is fully applicable to the States[.]” McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 750 (2010)."
The AG further recognizes:
"The State is unaware of any legitimate basis to distinguish New Jersey’s stun-gun statute from Massachusetts’ statute. The New Jersey stun-gun statute, like the Massachusetts statute, criminalizes mere possession of a stun gun….. Since both statutes criminalize mere possession of a stun gun, for the reasons outlined in Caetano, New Jersey’s stun-gun statute, like Massachusetts’s statute, violates the Second Amendment."
Evan F. Nappen, Esq., whose practice focuses on firearm and weapons law, stated in response to this recent development, “This is going to help a lot of people, including those who are looking for a reliable, non-lethal form of defense.” Additionally, Nappen confirmed that he presently has a number of cases in which this will be of help.
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