Hoens, Driven Early From Bench, Led N.J. Court in Critical Rulings

, New Jersey Law Journal


In a separate opinion designated “dubitante,” Hoens expressed doubts about both Rabner’s and Rivera-Soto’s views.

She warned of a “true constitutional crisis that is looming,” which would happen when an appeals judge swung the outcome in a case where the judge was not needed to form a quorum but only to help the court with its workload.

Hoens departure created another vacancy, though Christie’s nominee to replace her, Camden County Assignment Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina, won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Oct. 17. No date has yet been set for a Senate confirmation vote.

Many justices who leave continue for many months afterward to help decide appeals that were argued before them. Hoens will not be one of them.

According to judiciary spokeswoman Tammy Kendig, Hoens was done as of her last day and will not participate in any appeals, motions or any other matter in any fashion beyond what was filed as of Oct. 25.

Her final opinions were a pair of unanimous ones issued on Sept. 17 in Green v. Morgan Properties, 215 N.J. 431, and State v. Handy, 215 N.J. 334.

The Green ruling allowed Consumer Fraud Act and negligence claims against a corporate landlord based on lease provisions that imposed legal fees on evicted tenants in a fixed amount that was not tied to the actual cost of in-house counsel’s services for the eviction. Counsel could not be sued, however, because there was no attorney-client relationship, Hoens said.

The Handy decision overruled a 33-year-old precedent that bifurcated criminal trials where insanity was raised as a defense.

The last ruling in which she participated was State v. Hinton, on Oct. 24, where she joined Patterson and two others in upholding a warrantless police search of a public housing apartment in connection with an eviction.

Hoens has not announced her future plans nor did she respond to a request for an interview, relayed through the Administrative Office of the Courts.

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