Justia Immigration Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of New Jersey
In consolidated appeals, the issue they presented for the New Jersey Supreme Court's review centered on whether the Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA) empowered judges to detain defendants who were non-citizens to prevent immigration officials from removing them from the country before trial. Defendants Juan Molchor and Jose Rios were arrested and charged with aggravated assault and criminal mischief. Pretrial Services prepared Public Safety Assessments (PSAs) for both defendants, rating both defendants 1 out of 6 for failure to appear (the lowest level of risk), and 2 out of 6 for new criminal activity. Neither defendant had any pending charges, prior convictions, prior failures to appear, or prior juvenile adjudications. Pretrial Services recommended that both be released with monthly reporting. The State moved for pretrial detention, claiming defendants posed a flight risk because they were undocumented immigrants. The State presented no evidence that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was interested in either defendant. The court ordered both defendants detained pretrial, noting that, but for their immigration status, both would likely have been released. The Appellate Division reversed. The Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Division that the DJRA did not authorize judges to detain defendants to thwart their possible removal by ICE: "it would be preferable for ICE to refrain from deporting defendants while they await trial for many reasons. If removal proceedings occur while a case is pending, we again urge ICE officials to work with prosecutors to allow pending criminal charges to be resolved." View "New Jersey v. Lopez-Carrera" on Justia Law