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State of New Jersey v. Jeffrey Beck

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


August 27, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JEFFREY BECK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Essex County, Municipal Appeal No. 2011-02.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 22, 2012

Before Judges J. N. Harris and Fasciale.

Defendant Jeffrey Beck appeals from the Law Division's August 25, 2011 order imposing a fine of $5000 for violating Livingston Township Ordinances 227-16(A)(1) and 227-17(A) relating to property maintenance. We affirm.

In June 2009, Beck was charged with violating local ordinances when he failed to clean his rear yard of refuse and rubbish and maintained a fence in disrepair. After a trial in the West Orange municipal court, Beck was found guilty and sentenced to a fine and imprisonment.

On de novo appeal in the Law Division, Beck (1) challenged the sufficiency of the proofs against him, (2) argued that his due process rights were violated by the manner in which the municipal court proceedings were conducted, and (3) claimed that the sentence imposed by the municipal court was excessive.

Judge Ramona A. Santiago tried the matter and concluded, in a comprehensive seven-page written opinion, "that the pile of tires, pipes, garbage, containers, tarp, ladders, rubber hoses, and other construction materials in the rear yard constituted refuse or rubbish in violation of Ordinance 227-16(A)(1)." Furthermore, Judge Santiago determined "that the State ha[d] met its burden in establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that [Beck] [was] guilty of [violating] [Ordinance] 227-17(A)" because "the fence was in disrepair and evidenced 'structural collapse' as indicated by the use of the rope to support the fence."

Judge Santiago rejected Beck's due process arguments and was not persuaded by his contention "that the municipal court was predisposed to find [Beck] guilty." Lastly, the judge found the sentence was not excessive, but nevertheless permitted Beck to abate the conditions, and after he had done so, imposed a $5000 fine with no additional penalties. This appeal followed.

On appeal, Beck presents two newly-minted claims: (1) "the enforcement of Ordinances 227-16(A)(1) and 227-17(A) violated due process" and (2) "the enforcement of the ordinances was arbitrary and unreasonable." Because these issues were never presented to the Law Division, they are not reviewable on appeal. Neider v. Royal Indem. Ins. Co., 62 N.J. 229, 234 (1973). Beck's final contention is that the Law Division's fine "results in an excessive sentence[,] which should be reduced."

Based upon our review of the record and the applicable law, we conclude that Beck's arguments are without merit and do not warrant extended discussion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). In addition to affirming based upon the thoughtful reasons found in Judge Santiago's written opinion, we add only the following comments.

The sentence imposed is not manifestly excessive or unduly punitive, does not constitute an abuse of discretion, and does not shock our judicial conscience. See State v. O'Donnell, 117 N.J. 210, 215-16 (1989); State v. Ghertler, 114 N.J. 383, 387-88 (1989); State v. Roth, 95 N.J. 334, 362-64 (1984).

Affirmed.

20120827

© 1992-2012 VersusLaw Inc.



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