On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County.
Crane, Milmed and King. The opinion of the court was delivered by King, J.A.D.
This is an appeal from a dismissal of a complaint charging Resorts International Hotel, Inc. (Resorts), the first casino hotel licensed in New Jersey, with violations of the Child Labor Laws, N.J.S.A. 34:2-21.2 et seq. Final judgment dismissing the 20-count complaint was entered in the Atlantic City Municipal Court on February 22, 1979. The complaint alleged violations in employing four minors, ages 13 to 17, who performed in the casino's night-club show as acrobatic dancers between May 27 through September 4, 1978. A violation of the Child Labor Laws is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a jail term of up to 90 days. N.J.S.A. 34:2-21.19 and 21.63. Defendant waived, in writing, indictment and trial by jury, thereby conferring jurisdiction on the municipal court. See N.J.S.A. 2A:8-22.
Defendant Resorts was the holder of a temporary casino license, N.J.S.A. 5:12-95.1, and Class II and Class III alcoholic beverage licenses, N.J.S.A. 5:12-103. The Casino Control Act L. 1977, c. 110, effective June 2, 1977, provided for the pervasive regulation of every aspect, including employment, of legalized casino gambling, which form of gambling was not permitted in this State until November 2, 1976, when the voters adopted a
constitutional amendment so authorizing in Atlantic City only. N.J. Const. (1947), Art. IV, § 7, par. 2(D). The Casino Control Commission had issued casino hotel employee licenses, also called work permits, for the four minors involved, pursuant to the Casino Control Act, N.J.S.A. 5:12-91. However, Resorts made no attempt to comply with the requirements of the Child Labor Laws, N.J.S.A. 34:2-21.1 et seq. , insofar as they related to these young performers. Resorts contended at the municipal court level that the Casino Control Law preempted the Child Labor Laws in respect of any child employee whom the Commission was empowered to license. Alternatively, Resorts contended that any violation of the Child Labor Laws was innocent, inadvertent and without the mens rea requisite to sustain a criminal violation.
At the conclusion of the testimony offered by both sides the municipal judge dismissed the complaint on the ground that the court lacked jurisdiction. See R. 3:10-4. Defendant Resorts probably should have raised the objection on a motion before trial. R. 3:10-3. The municipal court judge concluded that "the broad, sweeping supremacy and preemptive policy statements in the Casino Control Act mandates that N.J.S.A. 34:2-21, et seq., [the Child Labor Laws] is [ sic ] thus superseded in its application to minors only to the extent and circumstances where they are employed by a casino hotel." After holding that the regulation of minors in casino hotel employment was preempted by the Casino Control Act, the judge further ruled that a specific criminal intent was necessary to support a finding of guilt. The judge concluded that since full disclosure of the minors' age and other circumstances of employment had been made to the Commission, the failure to obtain theatrical work permits or other employment certificates required by N.J.S.A. 34:2-21.1 et seq. was "inadvertent and innocent." The judge concluded his written opinion by stating: "We find that the charges encompassed in the complaints are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Casino Control Commission. This Court is therefore without
jurisdiction to act in the premises and the charges must therefore be dismissed." No general finding of guilt or innocence was rendered by the municipal court judge.
The State filed a "notice of motion for leave to appeal" to the Law Division on March 9, 1979. Following legal argument based on the record in the municipal court, the Law Division judge affirmed the dismissal on the grounds that (1) the appeal was out of time and (2) the principle of double jeopardy applied as a bar to the appeal. Additionally, the Law Division judge expressed his opinion that the Casino Control Act did not preempt the Child Labor Laws.
We agree with the Law Division judge's conclusion that the State's appeal or "motion for leave to appeal" was filed on the 11th day, March 9, 1979, after entry of verdict.*fn1 If a ten-day limit applies, the State's appeal was untimely and the Law Division was powerless to extend the time period. R. 1:3-4(c). Unfortunately, our Rules of Court did not specify the time limit for appeals from final pretrial or posttrial orders by courts of limited criminal jurisdiction dismissing complaints until R. 3:24 was amended, effective September 10, 1979. New subsection (b) of R. 3:24 specifically permits such appeals; new subsection (c) thereof specifies that any appeal thereunder must be taken within ten days after the entry of such order. See ...