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Calligy v. Mayor and Council of City of Hoboken

June 23, 1995

THOMAS P. CALLIGY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF HOBOKEN, DEFENDANT.



D'italia, A.j.s.c.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: D'italia

D'ITALIA, A.J.S.C.

This is a taxpayer action challenging an ordinance of the City of Hoboken that creates the offices of municipal court Judge and additional municipal court Judge "in the Department of Administration" of City government. Plaintiff argues that the assignment of the municipal court to a department of municipal government, a practice which has existed in Hoboken under various ordinances since at least 1959, violates the separation of powers doctrine. This matter is before the court on cross-motions for summary judgment.

The amended sections of the Hoboken Code about which complaint is made provide in pertinent part: *fn1

Sec.4-22. Municipal Court Judge.

There is hereby created in the Department of Administration the office of Municipal Court Judge, who shall be responsible for all judicial and administrative functions of the Municipal Court.

Sec. 4-23. Additional Municipal Court Judge

There is hereby created in the Department of Administration the position of Additional Municipal Court Judge assigned to the Municipal Court, who shall be an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey.

The City asserts that N.J.S.A. 40:69A-43 requires the municipal court be assigned to a department. This statute, part of the Faulkner Act, provides, among other things:

(a) The municipality shall have a department of administration and such other departments, not less than two and not exceeding nine in number, as council may establish by ordinance. All of the administrative functions, powers and duties of the municipality, other than those vested in the offices of the municipal clerk and the municipal tax assessor, shall be allocated and assigned among and within such departments.

The City's reliance on the cited statute is misplaced. The statute addresses only the allocation of the administrative functions, powers and duties of municipal government. It does not at all encompass the judicial functions, powers and duties of the municipal court which exist wholly apart from and independent of the municipal governing body.

The municipal court is an integral part of a state-wide judicial system and the judicial power exercised by municipal court Judges is the judicial power of the State. Kagan v. Caroselli, 30 N.J. 371, 377, 153 A.2d 17 (1959). As Chief Justice Weintraub pointed out in Kagan:

The Constitution provides [that] "the judicial power shall be vested in a Supreme Court, a Superior Court, County Courts and inferior courts of limited jurisdiction." Art. VI, Sec. I, par. 1. The Municipal Court, as an inferior ...


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