During my research on pre-empted loitering ordinances I found that Somers Point repealed their invalid ordinance in 1991 - yet the police and courts are still enforcing this ordinance. Here is my letter to the Atlantic County Municipal Division Manager.
December 28, 2012
Tina Lalena, Municipal Division Manager
Atlantic County Superior Court
4997 Unami Blvd
Dear Ms. Lalena:
From researching records of the Somers Point Municipal Court, I have discovered that the court, on April 17, 2012, accepted a guilty plea to a violation of a municipal code provision that the City repealed in 1991.
On-line here is the summons/complaint issued in State v. Showell, 2011-SC-5252. Following the summons/complaint is a "request of approve plea agreement" form. The summons/complaint and the plea agreement form indicate that Showell, pled guilty to Ordinance "3 of 1973" for "causing annoyance and alarm by loitering in the area of Route 52 and Route 559 while highly intoxicated." She was assessed a $106 fine and $33 in court costs.
On-line here is "Ordinance 3 of 1973" which I received from Somers Point Municipal Clerk Carol Degrassi.
On-line here is "Ordinance 6 of 1991" which was a major codification of the Somers Point City Code. On-line here is part of an e-mail thread with Clerk Degrassi in which she states that Ordinance"3 of 1973 "does not appear in the current code book," and "it appears that Ordinance No. 3 of 1973 was repealed when the City adopted the recodification in 1991."
Thus, it appears that Showell was, in 2012, assessed a total of $139 for violating a code provision that had been repealed more than twenty years earlier.
On-line here are the first three pages of the Somers Point Municipal Court's Local Offense List. As you can see, it lists several ordinances that were passed prior to the 1991 codification (e.g. "Ord 11 of 1960" prohibiting "false ID."). By virtue of their inclusion on the Local Offense List, any of these code provisions could be enforced, similar to the manner that "3 of 1973" was enforced against Showell.
I believe that the following three things need to happen, and I ask for your assistance:
- Remove "3 of 1973" from the Local Offense List and inform the Somers Point Police Department to immediately stop enforcing it.
- Have the Somers Point City Attorney review each of the entries on the City's Local Offense List and remove all of those which are no longer in force.
- Refund Showell the $139 that she paid for violating a repealed code section.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.
John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ 08875
cc. Mayor and Council, City of Somers Point