[First Reprint]

ASSEMBLY, No. 1965






Sponsored by:

Assemblyman† RAJ MUKHERJI

District 33 (Hudson)

Assemblywoman† ANNETTE QUIJANO

District 20 (Union)

Assemblyman† DANIEL R. BENSON

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)


Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblymen Verrelli, Auth, Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson, Assemblyman Stanley, Assemblywoman Timberlake, Assemblymen Karabinchak, Giblin, S.Kean, Assemblywomen Jasey, DeFuccio, Haider, Assemblyman Clifton and Assemblywoman Dunn






†††† Establishes Animal Advocate Program in AOC.



†††† As reported by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on February 14, 2022, with amendments.


An Act 1[concerning certain advocates] establishing the Animal Advocate Program in the Administrative Office of the Courts1 and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.


†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


†††† 1[1.† The Legislature finds and declares that animals are sentient beings capable of experiencing pain, stress, and fear.† It is the policy of New Jersey that, in order to protect animals from experiencing pain, stress, or fear at human hands, animals are to be treated humanely.† For that reason, animals shall be considered the victims of animal cruelty crimes and shall be treated as such in a court of law.]1


†††† 1[2.] 1.1†††† a.† 1[In] The Administrative Director of the Courts shall establish a two-year Statewide Animal Advocate Program.† As part of this program, in1 any criminal court proceeding pursuant to R.S.4:22-17 et seq. or pursuant to 1section 1 of1 P.L.2015, c.85 (C.2C:33-31), or 1in1 any other criminal proceeding that affects the welfare or care of an animal, the court may order, upon its own initiative or upon request of the State or a party or counsel for a party, that a separate advocate be appointed to represent the best interests of, and justice for, the animal.† If a court orders an advocate to be appointed, the advocate shall be appointed from a list provided to the court by the 1[Administrative Director of the Courts] director1.† A decision by the court denying or approving a request to appoint a separate advocate to represent the best interests of, and justice for, the animal shall not be subject to appeal.†

†††† b.††† (1)† The advocate shall:

††††††††††† (a) monitor the case;

††††††††††† (b) attend hearings;

††††††††††† (c) share with attorneys for the State and defendant any information new to the case or prepared by the advocate;

††††††††††† (d) have access to and review all relevant records concerning the condition of the animal and the defendantís actions, including, but not limited to, records from certified animal control officers, veterinarians and police officers; and

††††††††††† (e) present information or recommendations to the court that relate to the best interests of, and justice for, the animal, including placement of the animal.

††††††††††† (2)† The advocate may:

††††††††††† (a) consult any individual with information relating to the welfare or care of the animal; and

††††††††††† (b) make, prior to sentencing, an in-person statement directly to the sentencing court regarding the impact of the crime upon the animal.†

†††† c.†††† The 1[Administrative Director of the Courts] director1 shall maintain a list of attorneys with knowledge of animal issues and the legal system and a list of law schools that have students with an interest in animal issues and the legal system.† Such attorneys and law students shall be eligible to serve as advocates on a voluntary basis under this section.† In order to be eligible, attorneys and law students 1[must] shall1 (1) be authorized to make court appearances in the State of New Jersey; (2) be familiar with criminal court proceedings pursuant to R.S.4:22-17 et seq. or pursuant to 1section 1 of1 P.L.2015, c.85 (C.2C:33-31), or any other criminal proceeding that affects the welfare or care of an animal; and (3) be familiar with an advocateís duties as set forth in this act.† The provisions of R.1:21-3 of the Rules of Court shall govern a law studentís participation as an advocate under this section.†

†††† 1d.† Two years following the establishment of the program, the director shall submit to the Governor, and to the Legislature pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), a report containing information on the implementation of the program, which shall include the directorís recommendations on the advisability of continuing the program.1


†††† 1[3.] 2.1† This act shall take effect 1[immediately and] on the first day of the sixth month next following the date of enactment, except that the Administrative Office of the Courts may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.† This act shall1 apply to all cases initiated on and after 1[that] the effective1 date 1and shall expire two years after enactment1.†