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State v. Celmer

July 12, 1976

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LOUIS J. CELMER, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Shebell, J.c.c.

Shebell

On March 24, 1976 defendant was charged in three summonses, returnable before the Ocean Grove Municipal Court, with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a)); speeding (N.J.S.A. 39:4-98) and disregard of a traffic signal (N.J.S.A. 39:4-81). On May 3, 1976 the municipal court judge found defendant guilty of all three offenses. Notice of appeal was filed with this court on May 11, 1976. Report of the convictions was filed with the Monmouth County Clerk on May 25, 1976 bearing the caption "Municipal Court of the Town of Ocean Grove, County of Monmouth, State of New Jersey."

On June 11, 1976, at the trial de novo on the record below, defendant for the first time raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction of the municipal court. Defendant argues that N.J.S.A. 40:97-1 et seq. , enacted to grant powers to

Camp Meeting Associations to act with the same powers as a municipality, including the power to establish a municipal court, is unconstitutional.

Decision on the constitutional arguments was reserved. The court made findings as to the sufficiency of the proofs with respect to the three charges and declared that the guilt of defendant had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt as to driving while under the influence of alcohol but that the other two charges had not been proven. Defendant was ordered to comply with R. 4:28-4, giving notice to the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey and also to the Ocean Grove Municipal Court, the attorneys for Ocean Grove, and to the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the United Methodist Church and its Police Chief. No one other than the Prosecutor of Monmouth County and the attorney for defendant has appeared.

R. 7:4-2(e) carries over to the municipal court practice the provisions of R. 3:10-3 and 3:10-4. The State argues that by not raising the defense of lack of jurisdiction or the unconstitutionality of the statute at an earlier time, it is waived. There is no merit to this position. R. 3:10-3 specifically permits the raising of such a defense on appeal. The prohibition of the aforementioned rules and R. 3:10-2 excepts from its mandate as to motions which must be raised before trial that of lack of jurisdiction. Even with respect to those defenses which must be raised before trial, the court is given authority for good cause shown to grant relief from the waiver of the defense for failure to raise it before trial.

L. 1870, c. 157 incorporated Ocean Grove, establishing the original incorporators and their successors as a body corporate and politic under the name of "The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church." The name was later changed to "The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of the United Methodist Church." L. 1968, c. 231. The purpose stated in L. 1870, c. 157, ยง 1 is for "providing and maintaining for the members and friends of the

Methodist Episcopal Church a proper, convenient and desirable permanent camp meeting ground and christian seaside resort." The charter and the by-laws of the Association require that the trustees be and remain members of the United Methodist Church in good and regular standing. Association By-Laws, Arts. I, II and III.

The board of trustees manage and govern the Association under the charter and by-laws. The by-laws, which are subject to revision only by the trustees, provide that the board is self-perpetuating in that they themselves elect their replacements and successors. All officers are elected from the trustees. There is no requirement that the trustees reside in Ocean Grove at any time. The land which forms the area known as Ocean Grove is owned by the Camp Meeting Association and is subdivided into lots which may be leased "for ninety-nine years, or less, subject to renewal if none of the conditions have been violated, to parties who may be vouched for as of good moral character and in sympathy with the objects of this Association, when approved by the President or his designated representative in writing, subject to such rules and regulations as may be adopted by the Association or the Executive Committee from time to time." By-Laws, Art. XI.

This Camp Meeting Association and any other which can qualify under N.J.S.A. 40:97-1 as being "incorporated under the laws of this state for the purpose of providing any religious body or society with a permanent camp meeting ground or place of religious service," is granted general powers which have been held to establish Camp Meeting Associations as a class of municipalities. Percello v. Ocean Grove , 100 N.J.L. 407, 408 (E. & A. 1924) N.J.S.A. 40:97-1 et seq. ratifies the powers of the trustees of such associations to adopt by-laws and extends their powers to the passage of ordinances and resolutions. N.J.S.A. 40:97-5. The trustees may set ...


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