July 21, 2017
The Effects of NJ Bail Reform: CSI’s ECDR Feed Supports Prosecutors in Meeting the New Requirements

New Jersey prosecutors’ offices are feeling the impact on the public of the radical reforms to New Jersey’s criminal justice system that have come to be known euphemistically as “Bail Reform.” To support our prosecutor customers and help them in this new environment, CSI continues to roll out the eCDR data feed to the county prosecutors’ offices, giving prosecutors immediate access to all new warrants and summonses being generated by their local police departments. This quick access to charging documents has helped prosecutors manage the dangerously short timeline they now have under bail reform to make detention motion decisions, and the necessary filings required to try to keep dangerous criminals off the street.

NJ Bail Reform: CSI’s ECDR Feed Supports Prosecutors in Meeting the New Requirements

The case law tells another side of the story. With the new rules regarding detention hearings going into effect, old arguments about fairness and disclosure of information have been dusted off and re-visited in a new context. There is some limited guidance from the courts. On May 10, 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court released its decision in State v. Habeed Robinson, (A-40-16) (078900). This decision interprets Court Rule R. 3:4-2(c)(1) (B), setting out the general obligations of the State at a Probable Cause hearing. The Court provides a specific list of what the State is required to turn over to the defense in the event the State files for a detention hearing. These include:

○ The complaint
○ ThePublic Safety Assessment (PSA)
○ The affidavit of probable cause
○ Any available Preliminary Law Enforcement Investigation Report (PLEIR)
○ All statements and reports relating to the affidavit of probable cause
○ All statements or reports that relate to any additional evidence the State relies on to establish probable cause
○ All exculpatory evidence
○ Reports that are in the possession of the prosecutor, law enforcement officials, and other agents of the State

Note that:

○ Statements and reports related to items that appear only in the PLEIR need not be disclosed
○ Statements and reports relating to the risk of flight, danger, and obstruction, which the State advances at the hearing, should be disclosed
○ The phrase “statements and reports” refers to items that exist at the time of the hearing and does not encompass video and audio files, as a general rule

This substantial list of mandatory disclosures at the detention hearing puts the State under tremendous pressure to obtain the relevant records from one or many local law enforcement agencies and provide them to the defense attorney in a form that complies with the law and they can track in the subsequent stages of the case.

CSI’s CJP/Case Screening module that handles the eCDR data also creates an open document pipeline between the local police department that generates the eCDR and the prosecutor’s office. This facilitates the uploading of the documents that prosecutors are now required to provide at the detention hearing. Further, once the eCDR has been merged into a Promis/Gavel case, all of the standard InfoShare™ discovery tools are at the prosecutor’s disposal to manage the redaction, Bates stamping and release of the relevant discovery documents. We at CSI are committed to continuing to update and revise our software applications to adjust to the new criminal justice environment.

FIRST STATISTICAL REPORT ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM IS PUBLISHED

Although statistics can often tell only part of the story, the first statistical analysis of the effects of Criminal Justice Reform in New Jersey has been released by the Administrative Office of the Courts. From January 1, 2017 through the end of May 2017, the statewide average for detained defendants, defendants charged on a warrant, was 13.1%. The counties with the highest rates of detention for defendants charged on warrants were Atlantic with a 25.8% detention rate, and Passaic with a 24.9% detention rate for defendants charged on warrants. By contrast, the detention rate in Camden County was 10.3%.

The snapshot jail population statistics reflect the same reality. In Bergen County, the pre-trial jail population on May 31, 2015 was 516. Two years later, on May 31 2017, the jail population in Bergen County was down to 313, a 39.3% reductions. Similarly, in Camden County, the May 31, 2015 pre-trial jail population was 875, but on May 31, 2017 was down to 451, a 48.5% reduction.

An overall comparison of the state wide pre-trial jail population on May 31, 2015, to the pretrial jail population on May 31, 2017, shows that there has been a reduction of 35.7% in pretrial jail populations. The urbanized counties are seeing the largest percentage reductions over all, although some of the dense suburban counties are not far behind.