Submitted May 19, 2015.
Approved for Publication June 10, 2015.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 13-06-870.
Thomas G. Kelso, Middlesex County Counsel, attorney for appellants The Middlesex County Adult Correction Center and County of Middlesex ( Benjamin D. Leibowitz, Senior Deputy County Counsel, on the briefs).
Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for respondent Public Defender ( Stefan Van Jura, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, of counsel and on the brief).
Yonta Law, attorneys for respondent Maurice Fields; Jack Venturi & Associates, attorneys for respondent Taladeen Ross; Abdelhadi & Associates, attorneys for respondent Sharna Ross; Law Offices of William M. Fetky, attorneys for respondent Chad Butler; Anderl & Oakley, attorneys for respondent Zaire Franklin-Sherman; Kenneth Goodman, attorney for respondent Paul Staten; Kelly Anderson Smith, attorney for respondent Quaadir Hagood; Rodger J. Wolf, attorney for respondent Jamar Hill; Michael A. Priarone, attorney for respondent Nadrell McMillan; David R. Meiswinkle, attorney for respondent Jamil Anthony; Michael R. Napolitano, attorney for respondent Jaamir Hill; and Raymond P. Morasse, attorney for respondent Pedro Vickers, join in the brief of respondent Public Defender.
Before Judges FISHER, ACCURSO and MANAHAN.
[441 N.J.Super. 122] FISHER, P.J.A.D.
During the pretrial stage of this criminal prosecution, the trial judge entered orders directing the County of Middlesex to provide the means by which incarcerated defendants could accept, access and examine electronic discovery. Although we share the County's misgivings about the manner in which these orders were imposed, we also agree with the Public Defender that the issues have been rendered moot because the County has complied with the orders in question.
We briefly outline the case's procedural history. Indictment No. 13-06-870, which was handed up by the grand jury on June 25, 2013, charged twenty-five defendants in seventy-nine counts. At the time the orders in question were entered, many of the defendants were residing in the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center (MCACC). A description of the alleged offenses is not required.
On November 13, 2013, the Public Defender filed a motion to compel the MCACC to permit defendants access to voluminous discovery through electronic means. The motion was served on MCACC's warden, county counsel, an assistant county prosecutor, [441 N.J.Super. 123] and the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections. The motion was later amended to clarify that the Public Defender also sought an order that would require the MCACC: to permit the incarcerated defendants to accept electronic discovery from their counsel; to provide the incarcerated defendants with " individual personal access to a computer or other electronic device" that would allow access to electronic discovery " in an appropriate confidential setting" ; to permit defendants " to view their electronic discovery outside the presence of defense counsel" ; and to bear the expense of providing electronic equipment and access for viewing discovery. The County opposed the motion and cross-moved for an order directing that the Public Defender pay for and purchase the necessary hardware, software and related items if the Public Defender's motion were to be granted.
The trial judge granted the Public Defender's motion for reasons set forth in a written opinion. In his March 7, 2014 order, the judge compelled the MCACC to ...