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NJ Expungement Law Update (Public Office Forfeiture)

02
Jan
2011

by in Criminal Appeals

Matter of Expungement petition of D.H., ? N.J. ?, 2010 N.J. LEXIS 1128 (October 27, 2010) -Expungement of record affirmed, expungement of forfeiture of public employment order reversed.

“A public official pled guilty to a disorderly persons offense that directly involved or touched the official’s public office. As part of her plea agreement, the public official consented to the entry of a statutorily mandated order of forfeiture of public employment, that is, an order whereby the public official forfeited her public employment and was ‘forever disqualified from holding any office or position of honor, trust or profit under this State or any of its administrative or political subdivisions.’ N.J.S.A. 2C:51-2(d).

Several years later, the former public official sought relief under New Jersey’s expungement statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 to -32…. As part of that application, the former public official also sought to avoid the effect of the mandatory order of forfeiture of public employment, asserting that, along with her disorderly persons offense conviction, the order of forfeiture of public employment likewise should be expunged.

Both the trial court and the Appellate Division concluded that, in the context of a disorderly persons offense, the expungement statute must be read broadly enough to include and also expunge the order of forfeiture of public employment…. We disagree. Our primary task is to harmonize the provisions of the forfeiture of public employment statute … with those of the expungement statute….

[W]e conclude that the provisions of the expungement statute are not intended to override — that is, expunge — a properly entered order of forfeiture of public employment. Stated differently, we conclude that, in the context of an expungement application and in order to give full expression to the Legislature’s will, a mandatory order of permanent forfeiture of public employment must be severed from — and preserved from the expungement of — the conviction that originally triggered the order of forfeiture.”

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