[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of Burlington as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted by Ord. No. 8-1997 (Secs. 2.68.010 and 2.68.020 of the 1996 Municipal Code)]
On matters of judicial concern, the Municipal Court shall be directed by the Municipal Judge, who shall be appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of Common Council, for a term of three years and shall serve until a successor is appointed and qualified.
The Municipal Court shall have a Court Administrator and such other employees as the budget may authorize. On administrative matters, including, but not limited to, budgeting, finance and personnel, the Court shall be subject to such general administrative procedures and requirements as are generally required of departments. All Court staff personnel shall be appointed by the Business Administrator.
[Adopted by Ord. No. 2-1998 (Secs. 2.68.030 through 2.68.070 of the 1996 Municipal Code)]
Also included in the Municipal Court shall be the Municipal Prosecutor and the Municipal Public Defender. Each shall be an attorney at law of the State of New Jersey in good standing, and shall serve for a term of one year from the date of appointment and may continue to serve in office pending reappointment or appointment and confirmation of a successor. Each appointment shall be made by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Common Council.
The compensation of the Municipal Prosecutor and of the Municipal Public Defender shall be as set forth annually in the salary ordinance. The Municipal Public Defender shall not receive any additional compensation for interlocutory appeals in the Superior Court unless such additional compensation is authorized by resolution of the Common Council.
If there is a vacancy in the office of Municipal Public Defender, if the Municipal Public Defender is temporarily unavailable or if a finding of conflict of interest precludes the Municipal Public Defender from representing an indigent defendant, the Municipal Prosecutor may prosecute the offense if the Municipal Court appoints a qualified attorney to represent the indigent defendant. The attorney shall be entitled to compensation at the rate of $30 per hour or the current rate then in effect for attorneys hired by the Office of the Public Defender in conflict cases. Payment shall be made within 30 days of the submission of a voucher in accordance with established municipal procedures for the payment of claims.
The Municipal Public Defender may represent private clients in the Municipal Court subject to the rules of court governing the conduct of lawyers, judges and court personnel.
"Indigent defendant" means a person who is entitled to be represented by a Municipal Public Defender who does not have the present financial ability to secure competent legal representation.
Eligibility for services.
For persons over the age of 18 years, eligibility for services of the Municipal Public Defender shall be determined by the Municipal Court on the basis of the need of the defendant, which shall be measured according to N.J.S.A. 2A:158A-14 and guidelines promulgated by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Municipal Court shall make an investigation of the financial status of each defendant seeking representation and has the authority to require a defendant to execute and deliver written requests or authorizations to provide the Municipal Court with access to records of public or private sources, otherwise confidential, as may be of aid in evaluating eligibility. The Municipal Court is authorized to obtain information from any public record office or of any subdivision or agency of the state on request and without payment of the fees ordinarily required by law.
In an event that a determination of eligibility cannot be made before the time when the first services are to be rendered, or if an initial determination is found to be erroneous, the Municipal Court shall refer the defendant to the Municipal Public Defender provisionally, and if subsequently it is determined that the defendant is ineligible the Municipal Court shall inform the defendant, and the defendant shall be obligated to engage his own counsel and to reimburse the City for the costs of the services rendered to that time.
Whenever the person requesting representation is under the age of 18 years, the eligibility for services shall be determined on the basis of the financial circumstances of the individual and the financial circumstances of the individual's parents or legal guardians. The City shall be entitled to recover the cost of legal services from the parents or legal guardians through the City Solicitor pursuant to § 27-6, and the Municipal Court shall have the authority to require parents or legal guardians to execute and deliver the written request or authorization required under applicable law in order to provide the Municipal Court with access to records of public or private sources, otherwise confidential, as may be of aid to it in evaluating eligibility.
Limited ability to pay. If the defendant has or reasonably expects to have means to meet some part, though not all, of the costs of the services rendered, the defendant shall be required to reimburse the City, either by a single payment or in installments in such amounts as the defendant can reasonably be expected to pay; but no default or failure in making payment shall effect or reduce the rendering of services by the Municipal Public Defender.
The Municipal Public Defender shall represent an indigent defendant charged in Municipal Court with a crime as specified in N.J.S.A. 2B:12-18 or, if in the opinion of the Municipal Court there is a likelihood that the defendant, if convicted of any other offense will be subject to imprisonment or other consequence of magnitude, the Municipal Public Defender shall represent the indigent defendant.
All communications between the indigent defendant and the Municipal Public Defender shall be fully protected by the attorney-client privilege to the same extent and degree as if the counsel had been privately engaged.
The City shall have a lien on any property to which the defendant shall have or acquire an interest for an amount equal to the reasonable value of the services rendered to a defendant as calculated at the same rate as the office of public defender bills clients at that time.
To effectuate the lien the City Solicitor shall file a notice setting forth services rendered to the defendant and the reasonable value thereof with the Clerk of the Superior Court, which filing shall constitute a lien on property for a period of 10 years from the date of the filing, unless discharged sooner, and except for such time limitations, shall have the force and effect of a judgment. Within 10 days of the filing of the notice, the City Solicitor shall send by certified mail, or served personally, a copy of the notice with a statement of the date of the filing to or upon the defendant at the defendant's last known address. Failure to give notice shall cause the lien to be void.
The City Solicitor may compromise and settle any claim for services performed whenever the financial circumstances of the person receiving the services are such that, in the judgment of the City Solicitor, the best interest of the state will be served by compromise and settlement.
The City Solicitor on behalf of the City may do all things necessary to collect any money due by way of reimbursement for services rendered by the Municipal Public Defender. The City Solicitor may enter into arrangements with any state or county agency to handle collections on a cost basis. The City Solicitor shall have all the remedies and proceedings available for collection which are available for or upon the recovery of a judgment in a civil action and shall also be permitted to collect counsel fees and costs from the defendant for such collection action so that the same are not borne by the City.
A person applying for representation by the Municipal Public Defender shall pay an application fee not to exceed $200, but only in an amount necessary to pay the cost of the Municipal Public Defender's services. In accordance with guidelines promulgated by the New Jersey Supreme Court, the Municipal Court may waive any required application fee, in whole or in part, only if the court determines, in its discretion, upon a clear and convincing showing by the applicant that the application fee represents an unreasonable burden on the person seeking representation. The Municipal Court may permit a person to pay the application fee over a specific period of time not to exceed four months. Application fees collected shall be deposited in a dedicated fund administered by the Chief Financial Officer to be used exclusively to meet the costs incurred in providing the services of the Municipal Public Defender.