SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY, LAW DIVISION, MONMOUTH COUNTY.
This matter involves an application by John A. Kaye, the Monmouth County Prosecutor, for approval of his 1986 budget, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:158-7. Larry S. Loigman, an attorney at law, and a taxpayer and resident of Monmouth County, has moved for leave to intervene in the application.
By statute, Monmouth County is designated as a fifth class county; as such, it is authorized to employ a maximum of 12 county investigators, N.J.S.A. 2A:157-15, and a maximum of three assistant prosecutors, N.J.S.A. 2A:158-15 c. Presently, the office of the prosecutor employs 50 investigators and 29 assistant prosecutors.
On March 31, 1986, Loigman, suing in the name and on behalf of the county pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:15-18, obtained an order from Honorable Patrick J. McGann, J.S.C., sitting in Chancery, enjoining the board of chosen freeholders from expending any county monies to or for the use of any investigators in excess of the statutory maximum of 12 from June 1, 1986, onward. The order specifically recognized that the prerequisite order of the assignment judge had not been obtained by appropriate application of the prosecutor. See N.J.S.A. 2A:158-7; In re Application of Bigley, 55 N.J. 53 (1969).
On March 20, 1986, prior to Judge McGann's order, the board of chosen freeholders approved the prosecutor's 1986 budget, including the provision for 50 investigators and 29 assistant prosecutors.
Loigman now seeks to intervene in the prosecutor's application before me for final approval of the 1986 budget. He asserts that his intervention is necessary to ensure compliance with Judge McGann's ruling -- to assume a "watchdog" role in an effort to reduce what he and certain unnamed taxpayers consider to be "unnecessary expenditures funded by their taxes." Loigman submits that his intervention is authorized by N.J.S.A. 2A:15-18, under which the prior action was brought, and by R. 4:33-2, which provides for permissive intervention.
The prosecutor and the county contend that an application to the assignment judge for budget approval is not an "action" in which intervention is authorized. They also assert that there is no provision for a hearing or argument in N.J.S.A. 2A:158-7 -- that all the statute requires is the approval of a judge of the Superior Court.
N.J.S.A. 2A:158-7 provides:
All necessary expenses incurred by the prosecutor for each county in the detection, arrest, indictment and conviction of offenders against the laws shall, upon being certified to by the prosecutor and approved, under his hand, by a judge of the superior court or of the county court for such county, be paid by the county treasurer whenever the same shall be approved by the board of chosen freeholders of such county. The amount or amounts to be expended shall not exceed the amount fixed by the board of chosen freeholders in its regular or emergency appropriation, unless such expenditure is specifically authorized by order of the assignment judge of the superior court for such county.
In reviewing the request of the prosecutor under the statute, my role is legislative and not judicial. In re Application of Bigley, supra, 55 N.J. at 57. The statutory scheme does not call upon me to render a judicial opinion or to exercise the judicial power of my office; to the contrary, N.J.S.A. ...