LEGISLATIVE FISCAL ESTIMATE

[Second Reprint]

SENATE, No. 946

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

DATED: JUNE 24, 2014

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Synopsis:

Implements constitutional amendment authorizing denial of pretrial release; establishes speedy trial time frames; reforms bail proceedings; adds non-monetary bail alternatives; and authorizes Judiciary to revise fees for these and other court-related programs.

Type of Impact:

County government inmate housing savings, County government speedy trial expenditures, General Fund revenue and expenditures.

Agencies Affected:

County corrections agencies, County prosecutors, Judiciary, State Office of the Public Defender, Department of Law and Public Safety.

 

 

Office of Legislative Services Estimate-Immediate Impact

Fiscal Impact

FY 2015

FY 2016

FY 2017

 

State Revenue

$42.1 million

$42.1 million

$42.1 million

 

State Expenditures-Legal Services of NJ

$10.1 million

$10.1 million

$10.1 million

 

State Expenditures-Statewide digital e-court information system

$10 million

$10 million

$10 million

 

 

 

 

Office of Legislative Services Estimate-Additional Impact If Constitution Amended

Fiscal Impact

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

 

State Expenditures-Judiciary

$19.9 million

$35 million

$35 million

 

State Expenditures-Other

Indeterminate IncreaseĖ See comments below

 

County Expenditures

Indeterminate ImpactĖ See comments below

 

 

 

 

         The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) concludes that the aggregate fiscal impact of Senate No. 946 (2R), as well as the timing of portions of that impact, is indeterminate.† The OLS estimates that State revenue will increase by $42.1 million annually, as has been indicated by the Judiciary.† The OLS also estimates that State expenditures will increase by up to $10.1 million annually due to the dedication of increased judicial revenues to increased State funding for Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates.† Expenditures by the Judiciary on a Statewide digital e-court information system will also increase by up to $10 million annually, due to the dedication of increased judicial revenues.† The bill will also result in additional State expenditures of an indeterminate amount, and will also have an indeterminate impact on county expenditures, if an amendment to the State Constitution authorizing the courts to deny pretrial release of certain defendants is approved.

         According to the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the billís provisions regarding bail reform and speedy trial deadlines (which are contingent upon approval of the requisite constitutional amendment) would require the hiring of staff to administer risk assessments and monitor defendants pending trial (including electronic monitoring, drug testing, and treatment services) at a cost of $35 million annually plus an additional $2.4 million in one-time costs to establish a fully integrated information technology system dedicated to the work of the Pretrial Services Unit.† Utilizing this information, the OLS estimate illustrates the impact of the bill on the Judiciary as if the requisite constitutional amendment were approved and the applicable provisions of the bill were implemented the following January, and assumes that in the implementation fiscal year half the annual costs plus the initial information technology cost will be incurred. †Given these cost estimates, at full implementation the bill will result in aggregate State expenditures that will exceed additional State revenue by at least $13 million annually.

         The OLS concludes that the implementation of bail reforms and speedy trial deadlines would most likely decrease the number of individuals incarcerated in the county jails awaiting trials thus generating an indeterminate savings for the counties.† Each countyís savings would be determined by the number of individuals released as a result of this bill.† The OLS further notes that these savings could be offset in small, perhaps insignificant degree by the billís requirement that all persons committed to jail after being arrested on warrant remain incarcerated until the AOC conducts risk assessments and the courts conduct hearings for pretrial release or pretrial detention.

         The OLS also notes that implementation of the speedy trial provisions enumerated in the bill would impose additional responsibilities upon State and county prosecutors and the State Office of the Public Defender, as well as the courts, increasing county and State costs by an indeterminate amount.

         The AOC estimates that the increase in fees to be enacted by court rule as authorized by section 12 of the bill will result in $42.1 million annually for deposit in the ď21st Century Justice Improvement FundĒ to fund a Statewide Pretrial Services Program, a statewide digital e-court information system, and Legal Services of New Jersey.† The OLS has utilized that estimate to illustrate the billís potential impact, but notes that the AOC has not provided any detailed data upon which the estimate is based.† The OLS further notes that the projected annual revenue increase may not be achieved in the first fiscal year if the effective date of fee increases is significantly delayed by the rule adoption process.


BILL DESCRIPTION

 

††††† Senate Bill No. 946 (2R) of 2014 concerns several aspects of court administration.† It would: (1) establish statutory speedy trial deadlines for persons being detained in jail, both pre- and post-indictment; (2) reform the manner in which determinations for bail and other forms of criminal pretrial release are made; (3) provide courts with the authority to deny pretrial release and instead order pretrial detention; and (4) authorize the Judiciary to revise and supplement fees to help fund a pretrial risk assessment and monitoring program, and other court-related programs and services.†

††††† The provisions concerning categories (1) through (3) listed above would only be implemented after enactment of an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution modifying the current constitutional right to bail for all persons.† These provisions would take effect on the same day that a constitutional amendment, after approval by the voters, becomes part of the Constitution.†

††††† The provisions concerning category (4), authorizing the Judiciary to revise and supplement fees for the pretrial assessment and monitoring program related to the bill and for other court-related programs and services would take effect immediately.††

 

Speedy trial deadlines

††††† The bill would establish the following deadlines:

††††† - A person who has been charged with a crime and for whom pretrial detention is ordered by the court pursuant to the bill could not remain detained in jail for more than 90 days on that charge prior to the return of an indictment.† If the person is not indicted within the specified 90 days, the person would be released from jail upon motion of the person or on the courtís own motion.† Notwithstanding the courtís previous findings for ordering the personís pretrial detention (discussed in more detail below), the court would release the person on the personís own recognizance or set appropriate non-monetary conditions for the personís release.†

††††† - A person who has been indicted and for whom pretrial detention is ordered by the court could not remain detained in jail for more than 180 days on that charge following the return or unsealing of the indictment, whichever is later, before commencement of the trial.† In the event a personís trial does not begin within the specified 180 days, the person would be released from jail upon motion of the person or the courtís own motion, unless the court finds that a† substantial and unjustifiable risk to the safety of any other person or the community or the obstruction of the criminal justice process would result from the defendantís release from custody, so that no appropriate conditions for the defendantís release could reasonably address that risk.† If the court so finds, the court may allocate an additional period of time in which the defendantís trial shall commence before the defendant is released.† Notwithstanding the courtís previous findings for ordering the personís pretrial detention, the court would release the person on the personís own recognizance or set appropriate non-monetary conditions for the personís release to reasonably assure the personís appearance in court.†

††††† - In the event of a trial ordered after a mistrial or upon a motion for a new trial, such trial would commence within 120 days of the entry of the order of the court.† A trial ordered upon the reversal of a judgment by any appellate court would commence within 120 days of the service of that courtís trial mandate.

††††† For any of the above deadlines, the bill sets forth certain periods which would be excluded in computing the time within which a case would need to be indicted or tried.

††††† The speedy trial deadlines established by the bill would apply to any person who committed a crime on or after the applicable provisions became effective (which are tied to the approval of the constitutional amendment).

Reforms for bail and other pretrial release determinations

††††† To help support the billís bail and other pretrial release reforms, the Administrative Director of the Courts would establish and maintain a Statewide Pretrial Services Program.†

††††† Under the program, a risk assessment would be conducted on any person committed to jail after being arrested on warrant for an initial charge involving an indictable offense or disorderly persons offense within 48 hours of the personís commitment to jail for the purpose of making recommendations to the court concerning an appropriate pretrial release determination.† The Pretrial Services Program would also monitor each person released on court-ordered conditions, but not including those persons who satisfy a financial condition of release through a surety bond executed by a properly authorized company to do so.

††††† The bill would require that the court make a pretrial release decision ďwithout unnecessary delay,Ē but in no case later than 48 hours after the commitment to jail.† The court would consider the personís circumstances and the risk assessment performed by the Pretrial Services Program before making any pretrial release decision.

††††† A person out of jail on pretrial release could have the release revoked by a court, upon motion by a prosecutor, for violating a restraining order or condition of release, or a finding of probable cause that the person committed a new crime while on release.† The court could only take action to revoke the personís pretrial release on a finding by clear and convincing evidence that no monetary bail, non-monetary conditions of release, or combination thereof imposed on the person would reasonably assure the personís appearance in court, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, or that the person would not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice system.

 

Denial of pretrial release / pretrial detention

††††† Concerning the new authority for denying a person pretrial release (if approved by constitutional amendment), a prosecutor could file a motion seeking the pretrial detention of a person who was charged with certain crimes.† The prosecutor, in seeking a pretrial detention proceeding for which there is no indictment, would be required to establish probable cause that the person committed the predicate offense.

††††† Upon the filing of the motion for pretrial detention, and during any continuance of such motion, the person would be detained in jail, unless the person was previously released from custody, in which case the court would instead issue a notice to compel the personís appearance at the pretrial detention hearing.

††††† The court would hold a hearing to determine whether any amount of monetary bail, non-monetary conditions, or combination thereof could reasonably assure the personís future court appearance, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, or that the person would not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process.

††††† The court, in making its determination for or against pretrial detention, could rely upon such factors as the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, the weight of evidence against the person, the personís history and characteristics, and the recommendations concerning appropriate pretrial release determinations by the Pretrial Services Program risk assessment.

 

Court fees to support pretrial assessments, other court-related services and programs

††††† The bill provides that the Supreme Court may adopt Rules of Court to revise or supplement filing fees and other statutory fees payable to the court for the purpose of funding: (1) the development, maintenance, and administration of the above described Statewide Pretrial Services Program; (2) the development, maintenance, and administration of a Statewide digital e-court information system; and (3) the provision of legal assistance to the poor in civil matters by Legal Services of New Jersey.† All existing filing and statutory fees could not be increased or supplemented more than $50 in the aggregate for each such fee.

††††† The bill would establish in the General Fund a dedicated, non-lapsing fund to be known as the ď21st Century Justice Improvement Fund.Ē† This fund would be annually credited with a sum equal to the yearly revenue to be derived from the incremental amounts of any fees payable to the court that are revised or supplemented pursuant to the bill and the related fee revisions as provided by operation of N.J.S.22A:2-5 (fees payable in the Appellate Division, designated to be the same as those payable in the Supreme Court)† and section 2 of P.L.1993, c.74 (C.22A:5-1) (fees payable in the Tax Court, designated to be the same as those payable in the Superior Court).† The fund would be administered by the State Treasurer.

††††† Monies annually credited in the ď21st Century Justice Improvement FundĒ would be allocated as follows:

††††† (1)† $22 million would be appropriated annually to the Judiciary to be used for the Pretrial Services Program;

††††† (2)† $10 million would be appropriated annually to the Judiciary for the Statewide digital e-court information system;

††††† (3) $10.1 million would be appropriated annually to the Department of the Treasury for distribution to Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates to facilitate the provision to the poor of legal assistance in civil matters; and

††††† (4) Any remaining amounts still in the fund would be retained by the Judiciary for the purpose of developing, maintaining, and administering the Pretrial Services Program or for court information technology.

††††† No later than the sixth month after the end of each State fiscal year the Administrative Director of the Courts would submit a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the General Assembly describing the Judiciaryís use of funding provided through the bill and its progress toward the development, maintenance and administration of the Statewide Pretrial Services Program and Statewide digital e-court information system.† In addition, for the reports submitted next following the fifth and tenth anniversaries of the implementation of (1) the speedy trial deadlines, (2) bail and other pretrial release reforms, and (3) pretrial detention proceedings, the director would provide information about the impact of the billís provisions on the Judiciaryís administration of criminal justice.

††††† Legal Services of New Jersey also would submit a detailed financial statement to the Governor and legislative leadership, as well as the State Auditor, describing how funds provided pursuant to the bill were used for the provision of legal assistance to the poor in civil matters.† Additionally, the bill requires that the use of public funds appropriated to Legal Services of New Jersey would be subject to oversight by the State Auditor.

††††† The authority of the Supreme Court to revise or supplement any filing fees and other statutory fees would expire approximately seven months after the enactment of those sections of the bill establishing that authority, except that any fees that have been revised or supplemented would continue in effect, subject to the following:

††††† Within 30 days of the fifth anniversary of the effective date of the Rules of Court first adopted concerning any fees, and additionally within 30 days of the tenth anniversary of that effective date, the Supreme Court could review all such fees revised or supplemented utilizing its rulemaking process, which includes a reasonable opportunity for public comment, to determine if the fees should remain unchanged as originally adopted pursuant to the bill or be reduced to reflect the funding needs associated with the purposes set forth in the bill for which the ď21st Century Justice Improvement FundĒ provides monies.

††††† Finally, concerning court fees, as well as judicially imposed financial obligations, and related charges owed to a court when such are processed using credit cards, debit cards, or any other accepted electronic method, the bill updates existing law to authorize, pursuant to Rules of Court, the Administrative Office of the Courts to assess, collect, and pay service charges and other costs resulting from the collection and processing of such fees, obligations, and charges.† Any service charges and other costs assessed and collected by the Administrative Office of the Courts, with the exception of those charges or costs assessed and collected on behalf of municipal courts, would be deposited in the ďCourt Computer Information System FundĒ established by subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1994, c.54 (C.2B:1-4).

 

 

FISCAL ANALYSIS

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 

No information was provided.

 

 

JUDICIAL BRANCH

 

††††† The AOC informs the OLS that it anticipates increasing revenue by $42.1 million, which would be annually dedicated for a Statewide Pretrial Services Program ($22 million), a Statewide digital e-court information system ($10 million), and Legal Services of New Jersey ($10.1 million).

††††† The AOC further states that the bill would require the Judiciary to establish a new Pretrial Services Program to administer risk assessments to the approximately 85,000 defendants ďcommitted to jail.Ē †The Judiciary estimates that the results of the risk assessment would require pretrial monitoring of 25,000 defendants by the Pretrial Services Program.† The AOC notes that the Judiciary would need approximately 400 new employees to administer risk assessments and monitor defendants pending trial. †In addition, funds would be necessary for electronic monitoring, drug testing, and treatment services at a cost of $35 million plus an additional $2.4 million in initial costs to establish a fully integrated information technology system dedicated to the work of the Pretrial Services Unit.

††††† The AOC adds that this estimate does not encompass the fiscal impact of the speedy trial provision contained in the bill. †To accomplish this, the Judiciary would need an unknown number of additional staff.

 

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

 

††††† Based in part on the estimates of revenue and expenditures provided by the AOC, OLS concludes that the aggregate fiscal impact of Senate No. 946 (2R), as well as the timing of portions of that impact, is indeterminate.† The OLS estimates that State revenue will increase by $42.1 million annually, as has been indicated by the Judiciary.† The OLS also estimates that State costs will increase by up to $10.1 million annually due to the dedication of increased judicial revenues to increased State funding for Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates.† Expenditures by the Judiciary on a Statewide digital e-court information system will also increase by up to $10 million annually, due to the dedication of increased judicial revenues. †The bill will also result in additional State costs of an indeterminate amount, and will also have an indeterminate impact on county costs, if an amendment to the State Constitution authorizing the courts to deny pretrial release of certain defendants is approved.

Revenues: the AOC estimates that the increase in fees to be enacted by court rule as authorized by section 12 of the bill will result in $42.1 million annually for deposit in the ď21st Century Justice Improvement FundĒ to fund the Pretrial Services Program, a statewide digital e-court information system, and Legal Services of New Jersey.† The OLS has utilized that estimate to illustrate the billís potential impact, but notes that the AOC has not provided any detailed data upon which the estimate is based.† Absent information on which filing and other fees would be increased or supplemented and the actual amount of those increases or supplements, the OLS notes the possibility that actual revenues could vary from the AOCís estimate.† The OLS further notes that the projected annual revenue increase may not be achieved in the first fiscal year if the effective date of fee increases is significantly delayed by the rule adoption process.

 

State expenditures: The bill increases State expenditures by $10.1 million annually, due to the dedication of increased judicial revenues to increased State funding for Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates.† Expenditures by the Judiciary on a Statewide digital e-court information system will also increase by up to $10 million annually, due to the dedication of increased judicial revenues and the billís stipulation that the appropriation of dedicated revenues shall not replace appropriation from mother sources for Judiciary information technology.†

††††† A Statewide Pretrial Services Program, the outcome of the speedy trial and bail reform provisions of the bill, could be implemented only after adoption of an amendment to the New Jersey Constitution modifying the current constitutional right to bail for all persons (see N.J. Const. (1947), Article I, paragraph 11).† It is thus uncertain if and when additional costs to the State would result from those provisions of the bill.† The AOCís estimate of the need for additional staff to administer risk assessments and monitor defendants pending trial (including electronic monitoring, drug testing, and treatment services) and its estimate of the associated costs of establishing and operating the Pretrial Services Unit assumes approval of the requisite constitutional amendment in the near future.† The OLS notes that these estimates may understate the cost if the requisite constitutional amendment is not enacted until several years after the bill is approved.

††††† Neither the Department of Law and Public Safety nor the Office of the Public Defender provided the OLS with any estimate of the billís impact on the prosecutorial costs of the Division of Criminal Justice or the provision of legal representation to defendants in criminal cases, respectively.† The implementation of the speedy trial provisions enumerated in the bill would impose additional responsibilities upon those State agencies, increasing State costs by unknown amounts.

††††† The OLS concludes that, assuming full implementation of all of the billís provisions and given the estimates of revenue and costs that would result, the additional costs to the State will exceed the amount of additional State revenue by at least $13 million annually.† However, in each fiscal year following approval of the bill until the requisite constitutional amendment is approved, the additional State revenue resulting from the bill will exceed additional State costs by about $22 million annually.† The OLS notes that this revenue is dedicated to the future costs of implementing establishing and operating the Pretrial Services Unit should the constitution be amended as required for that unitís responsibilities to commence, so if a constitutional amendment does not occur in the near future, the point at which this net State impact has the same impact on State budgeting will be postponed.

 

County expenditures: the OLS concludes that the implementation of speedy trial deadlines and bail reforms would most likely decrease the number of individuals incarcerated in the county jails awaiting trials thus generating an indeterminate savings for the counties.† Each countyís savings would be determined by the number of individuals released as a result of this bill.

††††† Information obtained from the New Jersey Association of Counties (NJAC) indicates that there are about 13,000 inmates housed in county jails on any given day.† About 12 percent, or 1,560 of these inmates are non-violent offenders who cannot make bail of $2,500 or less.† The average length of stay for an inmate who cannot make bail and is pending trial is about 314 days.† The NJAC notes that it costs the counties about $100 per day to house an inmate in a county correctional facility.† The OLS notes that, assuming that individuals who are released under the provisions of this bill would have served 314 days in jail, at a cost of $100 per day, for every individual who is released from county jails, county governments could save about $31,400.† While these data would suggest a savings to counties of about $49 million, the actual impact could be considerably less, depending on the distribution of inmates and the difference between average and marginal cost of incarceration.† This also assumes approval of the requisite constitutional amendment in the near future; if a substantial amount of time elapses before that occurs, this actual impact could vary significantly from this estimate.

††††† The OLS further notes that these savings could be offset in small, perhaps insignificant degree by the billís requirement that all persons committed to jail after being arrested on warrant remain incarcerated up to 48 hours until the AOC conducts risk assessments and the courts conduct hearings for pretrial release or pretrial detention. †Under current law and practice there are some instances where individuals can obtain release more quickly than would occur under the billís provisions.

 

Section:

Judiciary

Analyst:

Anne Raughley

Principal Fiscal Analyst

Approved:

David J. Rosen

Legislative Budget and Finance Officer

 

This fiscal estimate has been prepared pursuant to P.L.1980, c.67 (C.52:13B-6 et seq.).