NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued November 18, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Municipal Appeal Nos. 19-2012, 20-2012, 21-2012, 22-2012, 23-2012 and 24-2012.
Richard P. Blender argued the cause for appellants.
Kenneth Wesley Thomas argued the cause for respondent (Lanza & Lanza, LLP, attorneys for respondent; Mr. Thomas, of counsel and on the brief).
Before Judges Harris and Kennedy.
In these consolidated bail remission appeals, the defendant-sureties seek review of the six August 3, 2012 orders entered by the Law Division denying their motions to treat their appeals from the City of South Amboy municipal court as if timely filed. We reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing.
Each individual defendant had been charged with one or more offenses in South Amboy, was admitted to bail, and released pending trial. For reasons that are neither relevant nor apparent from the scant motion record, the charged individuals failed to appear at scheduled court events, and their bails were forfeited. Subsequently, each defendant was apprehended and the associated bench warrant vacated.
On various dates in 2010, the individuals' sureties filed applications under Rule 7:4-5 to vacate the bail forfeitures. For reasons that remain perplexing, these motions were not considered by the municipal court for several years. Finally, on February 7, 2012, a hearing on the motions was conducted, which resulted in the municipal court denying each surety's application. Orders memorializing the municipal court's action were entered on March 8, 2012.
On April 16, 2012, thirty-nine days after the execution of the orders, each surety filed a motion seeking an order permitting it
to file a Notice of Appeal to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Nunc Pro Tunc from an order of the Honorable James P. Hoebich, South Amboy Municipal Court dated March 8, 2012, wherein the court denied the Motion to Vacate the Bail Forfeiture.
In support of each motion was a certification from the sureties' attorney Richard P. Blender, Esq., which explained that he never received the March 8, 2012 orders until April 10, 2012.
Blender further indicated that immediately after the February 7, 2012 hearing, he submitted proposed forms of order to the municipal court judge, but never heard anything for days. Blender then sent letters by facsimile transmission on February 28, March 13, and April 10, 2012, to the municipal court administrator requesting copies of the orders. Blender also averred that he telephoned South Amboy's attorney on March 26, 2012, seeking assistance in obtaining copies of the signed orders. ...