HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON THE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL

The New Jersey Attorney General is a member of the State Executive Cabinet and administers the Ministry of Law and Public Security. The office is designated by the New Jersey Governor, confirmed by the New Jersey Senate, and restricted in duration. In accordance with the New Jersey Constitution, the Attorney General serves the Governor in a parallel term (starting on the third Tuesday of January following the election and ending on the third Tuesday following the next election). Governor Phil Murphy named Andrew Bruck as Acting Attorney General, who is New Jersey’s first out LGBT Attorney General.

Conventional knowledge holds that, except for cause’ by the governor or by route of legislative impeachment, the Attorney General cannot be removed from office. The Lieutenant Governor cannot also serve in the capacity of the Attorney General.

WHAT DOES THE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL DO

The Attorney General serves as head of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, which is organized into ten divisions charged with overseeing the state’s criminal justice system, consumer protection, regulating certain state-wide industries, among other responsibilities. According to the office of the attorney general’s mission statement, despite these varied duties, ‘the Department is singularly united in protecting the safety and security of all those who live, work, and visit New Jersey.’ 

THE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL’S RESPONSIBILITIES IN THE DIVISION OF LAW

The Law Division (DOL) acts as the main legal counsel for the State Government of New Jersey. In essence, this job consists of three elements: [A.] to provide legal advice to the departments and agencies of the state, [B.] to defend the State in civil disputes, and [C.] to institute civil proceedings against persons, businesses, and other bodies that breach the law, and who harm New Jersey and its residents. The tasks of DOL, comprised of almost five hundred attorneys, include issues relating to banking, child protection, corrections, education, the environment, finance, health insurance, taxation, and transport.

New Jersey’s current Acting Attorney General is Andrew Bruck. On 30th June 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy nominated him acting Attorney General to replace Gurbir Grewal who resigned on 16 July 2021 as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Director of Enforcement effective 26TH  July that year.

New Jersey is one of seven states where citizens do not choose their Attorney General. The Constitution of New Jersey addresses the office of the Attorney General in Article V, the Executive.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL

The Legislature has given extensive civil powers and responsibilities to the Attorney General. These include serving as the only legal adviser to all ‘officers, departments, boards, bodies, commissions, and State Government instruments.’ The legal counsel of these Departments and agencies is the duty of the Law Division and it is through this Division that the Attorney General carries out the majority of duties relating to the legal role they have played as Chief Counsel for the State, accountable for exercising and protecting public interests.

The Division of Law has a duty to lawfully represent these departments and agencies and it is via this Division that the Attorney General has most of their statutory obligations as Chief State Counsel, responsible for executing the Public Offerings and the Protection of Public Interest. The Division of Law was established on 7th  March 1944 and has a wide range of activities in carrying out its purpose. The Division is responsible for about thirty thousand pending legal cases in the federal and state courts of appeal and administrative fora.   Furthermore, the Law Division offers the Governor and other ministries, boards, and commissions within State governments with legal guidance and assistance.

Under the direction of the Attorney General, the Director is responsible for managing the Division. The Division has nine practice groups led by Assistant Lawyers General, each consisting of twenty-five sections to which the majority of the attorneys in the Division are appointed. Section chiefs and assistant chiefs oversee the sections.

The Attorney General monitors the criminal justice system, safeguards public safety, and protects the state from prosecution. The Department governs the casino, boxing, alcoholic beverages, and competition sectors. In addition, the Department safeguards customers against fraud. Although these duties are diverse, the Department is unique in safeguarding the safety of all those living, working, and visiting New Jersey

HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON THE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL

The Attorney General or any person designated to receive the process in writing may be served, with New Jersey Process Service being directed to the Office of the Attorney General.  For an agency, this would mean that personal delivery of Process Service to the officer or the chief executive officer of the agency would have to be committed on a personal delivery basis. However, Process Service on said officer may also be made by [A.] mailing of the Process Service papers by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the officer or chief executive officer of the agency or [B.] personal Process Service on the State. 

HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS BY MAIL ON THE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL

Process Service by certified mail cannot be complete until the summons is received in the office of the  Attorney General. This also holds true until personal service upon the state in the manner provided by the office is concluded.  

Service by certified mail must be addressed suitably on the front of the envelope and should bear the legend of the mail being urgent and legal. After this has been completed, the service may be accepted. The Attorney General of every such agency should designate at least one person, not counting themselves, to accept personal service on behalf of the agency. This procedure is held to be true in any state agency. As an alternative to the methods of personal New Jersey Process Service, documents may be served by the plaintiff or any other person by mailing to the person or entity to be served. 

Mail-in this context means that first-class mail must be employed with postage prepaid, a copy of the documents together with two copies of a statement of service by mail and acknowledgment of receipt.

HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON THE DIVISIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL IN NEW JERSEY

It must be noted that the Attorney General and the Criminal Justice Division receive many letters seeking that they intervene in civil proceedings or criminal prosecute a person with whom the letter writer files a civil proceeding or disagreement. The office of the Attorney General cannot interfere in legal proceedings or disputes or alter the result of any civil dispute. If the individual is unhappy with the results of a civil lawsuit, it is necessary to consult an attorney of their choice about the option of appealing. To understand the idea further, it is necessary to contact the Clerk of the Appeals Division for assistance with pro-se appeals if one needs information about submitting their own appeal. If the communication involves child support,  through the Administrative Office of the Courts is the easiest way to contact the Child Support Enforcement Services Unit for purposes of Process Service. 

An individual may also raise a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General if they felt that a judge acted misguidedly during their case. For the purposes of identifying said complaint and for New Jersey Process Service in the case, it is necessary to contact the Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. The purpose of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct is to make recommendations that would then be applied to the Supreme Court itself when it comes to the conduct of the judges. However, it must be remembered that the action of this Committee cannot make any difference to the case. While its actions have the power of law behind them, it still cannot change to outcome of the case, which would have to be fulfilled upon the pursuance of civil remedies available. 

Furthermore, letters from prisoners or defendants should be addressed with great care to the Attorney General. The Attorney General and the Criminal Justice Division are State representatives in criminal proceedings. Therefore, their legal position in any criminal action in which the defendant is engaged would be identical to that of the prosecutor. This means the Attorney General cannot have contact with the individual except through their lawyer. Any expression of concern for proper handling of the case or if the individual claims that their rights have been infringed or have any issues with respect to their case should be communicated with the attorney for appropriate handling.

The Attorney General and the Criminal Justice Division have received correspondence for them to intervene in civil litigation or to prosecute a party with whom the letters have been brought to trial or dispute. They cannot interfere in civil disputes or conflicts, or in any way alter the result of the civil dispute.

HOW TO SERVE LEGAL PAPERS ON THE NEW JERSEY ATTORNEY GENERAL FOLLOWING LACK OF PROSECUTION DISMISSAL

The primary method of obtaining personal jurisdiction over a defendant in this State is by causing the summons and complaint to be personally served within this State in accordance with Process Service parameters.  If Process Service has to be served upon the State of New Jersey, it must then be done by registered, certified, or ordinary mail of a copy of the summons and complaint or alternatively by personal delivery of a copy of the summons and complaint to the Attorney General as Process Service. There is no applicable default for failure to appear unless personal Process Service has been specifically done as such.

It must be known that for action concerning lien or encumbrance held by the state, the notice should be done in lieu of a summons and must be done in accordance with N.J.S.A. 2A:45-2. New Jersey Process Service should then be provided along with a copy of the complaint levied upon the attorney general or their designee. However, if the lien or encumbrance arises by reason of a recognizance entered into in connection with any proceeding in the Superior Court or any criminal judgment rendered in such court, the notice, together with a copy of the complaint, will have to be served on the county prosecutor or the prosecutor’s designee named in a writing filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court for purposes of Process Service.

In Weber  v.  Mayan  Palace  Hotel  &  Resorts,   the court held that a complaint dismissed for lack of prosecution can be served with appropriate New Jersey Process Service before it is reinstated.  Reinstatement Service of a  dismissed complaint,  as a  prerequisite to vacating a  dismissal and restoring the pleading,  is permissible according to Process Service guidelines. 

The Department of Law and Public Safety’s objective is to safeguard the safety, safety, and quality of life of the people of New Jersey via an organized and collaborative legal enforcement and regulatory agency system. The Department defends the rights and interests of the people in all issues of law. The Department has a broad range of duties for the people and divisions, as well as autonomous commissions and boards. As Head of the Department, the Attorney General acts as Chief Enforcement Officer and Legal Counsel of the State and is responsible for the supervision of the Department of Legal Affairs and Public Safety.

FOR ASSISTANCE SERVING LEGAL PAPERS

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Sources

1. Tully, Tracey. “What GURBIR Grewal Learned as the Nation’s First SIKH Attorney General.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 July 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/07/23/us/politics/grewal-nj-attorney-general-sec.html. 

2. Under Article V, Section IV (3):

The Secretary of State and the Attorney General shall be nominated and appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate to serve during the term of office of the Governor…

3. ACR 134, a bipartisan bill introduced on March 20, 2014, would eliminate the appointment process and allow for an elected state attorney general. That bill was referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. A similar bill (SCR 71) was pending in the New Jersey Senate. Those bills, along with a 2016 proposal by State Sens. Peter Barnes, III and Raymond J. Lesniak, did not pass before the end of their respective legislative sessions.

4. As of January 12, 2021, the office of the attorney general is composed of the following divisions: 

  • Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control
  • Division of Consumer Affairs
  • Division of Criminal Justice
  • Division on Civil Rights
  • Division of Gaming Enforcement
  • Division of Highway Traffic Safety
  • Division of Law
  • Juvenile Justice Commission
  • NJ Racing Commission
  • State Athletic Control Board
  • Division of NJ State Police
  • Victims of Crime Compensation Office

5. Street Address:
Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex
8th Floor, West Wing
25 Market Street
Trenton, NJ 08625-0080

Phone: 609-292-4925
Fax: 609-292-3508

6. Mailing Address:
Office of The Attorney General
P.O. Box 080
Trenton, NJ 08625-0080

7. This is  deemed to refer to any agency, board, bureau, commission, division, tribunal, or other entity which constitutes the state for purposes of  service

8. Child Support Enforcement Services

Probation Division

Administrative Office of the Courts

P.O. Box 987

Trenton, NJ 08625

9. Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct

c/o Administrative Office of the Courts

P.O. Box 037

Trenton, NJ 08625

www.judiciary.state.nj.us/appdiv/foHrms/forms.htm

10. Such as filing an appeal, or a motion for reconsideration, or other post-judgment relief.

11. Complaints or concerns about state prison facilities should be addressed to:

Department of Corrections

Office of the Ombudsman

P.O. Box 863

Trenton, NJ 08625 -0863

12. Pursuant to R. 4:4-3

13. Or to the Attorney General’s designee named in a writing filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court.

14. In an action under N.J.S.A. 2A:45-1 et seq.

15. Weber  v.  Mayan  Palace  Hotel  &  Resorts,  397 N.J.  Super.  257  (App.  Div.  2007),  

16. Under  R. 1:13-7(a)

17. Stanley v. Great Gorge Country Club, 353 N.J. Super. 475 (Law Div. 2002).

18. Exemptions from the Automated Dismissal Process 

A. Forfeitures – The only forfeiture that has been stopped or inactivated at the request of the  Attorney General because the defendant is a fugitive in the accompanying criminal case is not subject to the mechanism of automated dismissal but which is not stayed or inactivated is susceptible to automated dismissal.

B. Condemnations/Inverse  Condemnations    these cases are individually managed and, while the managing judge based on his or her determination in a  particular case may dismiss them,  they are not to be subject to the automated dismissal process. 

C. Mass Tort and Centrally Managed Cases: These cases are specially handled and are subject to the automated dismissal process at the direction of the assigned judge. 

D. Fictitious Parties – No Automated Dismissal Notices of dismissal are not issued as to fictitious defendants unless the fictitious defendants are the only defendants in the case. 

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