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Commercial Credit Corp. v. Congleton

Decided: July 10, 1952.

COMMERCIAL CREDIT CORPORATION, ET ALS., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
RICHARD J. CONGLETON, ESSEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR, ET ALS., DEFENDANTS



Colie, J.s.c.

Colie

[21 NJSuper Page 89] These cases, four in number, are before the court, sitting without a jury, on a stipulation of facts. The plaintiffs are engaged in the business of purchasing

commercial paper and are the holders of conditional sales contracts purchased for value in the regular course of business. The automobiles covered by the contracts have been seized pursuant to R.S. 24:18-38.1 to 38.3, inclusive, and are held by the Prosecutor of Essex County. The liens admittedly are valid and have been filed and noted on the certificate of ownership in the office of the Director of Motor Vehicles. The automobiles were seized in connection with a violation of Revised Statutes, Title 24 and none of the plaintiffs had knowledge or information giving them cause to believe that they were to be used in connection with a violation of said statute. A default has taken place under each of the contracts and pursuant thereto the plaintiffs are entitled to the immediate possession of the said automobiles except for the effect of the statute first above referred to. It is further stipulated that in the event that the statute is determined to be constitutional, plaintiffs shall have the right to make such other motions for judgment on the pleadings or for summary judgment or any other applicable motion in the cause as plaintiffs deem fit and proper.

The sole question for determination is the constitutionality of N.J.S.A. 24:18-38.1 through 38.3 and the matter is before the court on briefs and oral argument.

Plaintiffs take the position that the statute is so vague, uncertain and indefinite as to be unenforceable and further that the statute violates the New Jersey and Federal Constitutions.

The statute, in part, reads:

"24:18-38.1. * * * Any motor vehicle * * * used in, for or in connection with the violation of any of the provisions of chapter eighteen of Title 24 of the Revised Statutes * * * is hereby declared to be unlawful property. Any person or officer * * * knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that any such motor vehicle, * * * constitutes such unlawful property, shall seize the same and shall forthwith give notice thereof, in writing, to the Attorney General of New Jersey and the county prosecutor of the county wherein the seizure was made, setting forth in detail a description of the property so seized."

N.J.S.A. 24:18-38.2 reads:

"All property when seized shall be delivered to and be under the supervision of the county prosecutor for the county in which the seizure was made and shall be retained by the said prosecutor pending trial or ultimate disposition of the charge or charges, indictment or indictments, growing out of any arrest in connection with which such property was seized."

N.J.S.A. 24:18-38.3 reads:

"If the trial or other ultimate disposition of such charge or charges, indictment or indictments result in a record of conviction being entered against the person or persons so arrested as aforesaid, in connection with which arrest the said property was seized, then the county prosecutor may make application without prior notice to a judge of the County Court of said county, for an order declaring and ordering that such property be forfeited to the sole use and gain of the county; provided, however, that proof, to the satisfaction of the court, shall first be established that no suit or proceeding, then pending and undetermined, has been filed in any court of competent jurisdiction, against said county prosecutor seeking a recovery or return of such property.

"If the trial or other ultimate disposition * * * result in an acquittal or other final termination * * * in favor of the person or persons so arrested as aforesaid, in connection with which arrest the said property was seized, then the persons claiming to own the said property may, within six months from the date of such acquittal or other final termination, in addition to any other remedy now provided by law, make application, on giving ten days' prior notice thereof to the county prosecutor, to a judge of the County Court * * * for an order declaring such property to be the property of such person * * * and ordering the same to be returned * * *. At any time after the expiration of said period of six months from the date of acquittal or other final termination, the county prosecutor may make application without prior notice to a judge of the County Court * * *, for an order declaring and ordering that such property * * * be forfeited to the sole use and ...


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