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Norman L. Merrill, Jr., and Tracey L. Franzosa v. State of New Jersey

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


November 22, 2011

NORMAN L. MERRILL, JR., AND TRACEY L. FRANZOSA, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY, THE COUNTY OF ATLANTIC, MICHELE C. VERNO, ESQUIRE, AND JONATHAN E. DIEGO, ESQUIRE, DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Docket No. L-1744-10.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 3, 2011 -

Before Judges Parrillo, Alvarez and Skillman.

Plaintiffs Norman L. Merrill, Jr., and Tracey L. Franzosa appeal from the September 1, 2010 decision of Judge Valerie H. Armstrong dismissing their complaint with prejudice pursuant to Rule 4:6-2(e), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The judgment also dismissed as moot plaintiffs' motion to amend the complaint.

We affirm.

Merrill was charged with several motor vehicle offenses, including driving while under the influence, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, in Hamilton Township. Franzosa was similarly charged in Atlantic City. As a result, they filed a complaint alleging that the statute authorizing the appointment and retention of municipal court judges, N.J.S.A. 2B:12-4, violates both the federal and state constitutions. The ninth count of the complaint also sought to impose the same code of ethics on municipal prosecutors as applies to State Attorneys General and County Prosecutors.

Defendants State of New Jersey, County of Atlantic, the municipal prosecutor in Hamilton Township, Michele C. Verno, Esquire, and the municipal prosecutor in Atlantic City, Jonathan E. Diego, Esquire, filed motions to dismiss in accordance with Rule 4:6-2(e). Plaintiffs cross-moved to amend the complaint to include a count alleging a violation of their civil rights, a demand for attorney's fees, and to name the State Attorney General and the Atlantic County Prosecutor as additional defendants.

In a thoughtful, cogent, and well-reasoned twenty-seven- page opinion, Judge Armstrong concluded that even "the most generous reading" of the allegations in the complaint did not reveal any legal basis for the prayers for relief asserted in the complaint. Having searched "[p]laintiffs' [c]omplaint in depth and with liberality[,]" Judge Armstrong could not "find even a suggestion of a claim worthy of consideration." The motion to amend the complaint was denied as moot in light of the dismissal. We agree with the reasons expressed in explicit detail in the written decision. Plaintiffs' arguments do not warrant any further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11- 3(e)(1)(E). Affirmed.

20111122

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