Walsh, J.s.c., Temporarily Assigned.
This is a motion for leave to appeal to the Hudson County Court from an interlocutory order of the Union City Municipal Court denying defendant admission to the Hudson County Pretrial Intervention Program (hereinafter PTI), and is before this court pursuant to R. 3:24. Defendant, a New York resident, seeks to have the PTI policy of automatically excluding out-of-state residents declared unconstitutional, as it applies to him. Pursuant to the terms of R. 3:24, this court can simultaneously grant the motion and decide the appeal on the merits.
PTI*fn1 in Hudson County was developed and initiated in [141 NJSuper Page 531] late 1971, pursuant to R. 3:28.*fn2 The project was funded initially by grants from S.L.E.P.A. and the United States Department of Labor, and is under the authority of the Administrative
Office of the Courts. It was represented to the court at oral argument on this motion that the only funds presently available to support the program are county funds.
PTI is essentially a diversion mechanism, designed to process a defendant in a manner that will effectively deter criminal or penal behavior; that takes the defendant outside the traditional processes and leaves him without any criminal conviction. Of equal importance, it is also the stated purpose of PTI to assist in the relief of presently overburdened criminal calendars and to conserve the energies and resources of criminal justice agencies by removing defendants from trial calendars, as aforesaid, thereby permitting those agencies to concentrate on matters controllable only by traditional prosecution and sanctions.
There are many aspects to PTI, but we are concerned only with the "Selection Criteria", specifically, "Residence", cf. Proposal , at B-2.*fn3
New Jersey's PTI program is designed to deal with the problem of crime in New Jersey. Recognizing that because New Jersey is a "corridor state," residents of neighboring states frequently conduct criminal activity within its jurisdiction, residence should be a bar to admission only where a defendant resides such a distance from New Jersey as to bar effective counseling or supervisory procedures. Proposal at 71.
Defendant in this case is a resident of Brooklyn, New York, and is charged with a disorderly persons violation. At his initial appearance in municipal court defendant sought admission to PTI. He was never screened, but was automatically excluded solely because of the fact of his nonresidency. So far as this court is presently aware, defendant is, in all other respects, eligible for PTI, and would in fact be acceptable were he a New Jersey resident.
Defendant contends that his exclusion from the program based solely on his nonresident status is violative of his right to equal protection of the laws, under U.S. Const. , Amend. XIV, and is also violative of U.S. Const. , Art. IV, § 2, cl. 1
(Privileges and Immunities). Defendant also contends that a fundamental right is involved and hence a compelling state interest must be shown for defendant to be excluded from PTI based solely on nonresidency. Because of the disposition of his other contentions, ...