New Jersey – -(AmmoLand.com)- Overturning both a County Superior Court and an Appellate Division decision, the law firm of Evan F. Nappen, Attorney at Law successfully petitioned the NJ Supreme Court for a unanimous Opinion released today mandating that people must be provided with hearings whenever a court contemplates denying a handgun carry permit and that such hearings must be held within 30 days.
New Jersey’s highest court today held that: “if a court has any questions regarding the applicant or his or her permit to carry application, it must hold a hearing to address those questions. The court should not simply deny the application.” “[A] hearing must be held whenever the court contemplates denying a handgun carry-permit[.]”
NOTE: The above bold text for emphasis appears in the Supreme Court Opinion In Re Application for Permit to Carry a Handgun of Calvin Carlstrom and Syllabus.
This is believed to be the first pro-gun rights decision ever issued unanimously by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Carlstrom was hired by a security company to be an armed guard protecting movie theatres. In 2016, he applied for a New Jersey permit to carry a handgun which, after an investigation, was approved by the Roselle Park Police Chief.
In New Jersey, however, county judges actually issue these permits, and Carlstrom’s application supporting documents was accordingly forwarded to the Union County Superior Court.
On February 2, 2017, Judge William A. Daniel denied Carlstrom’s application without ever providing Carlstrom with a hearing on the merits of his application.
Under New Jersey’s governing statute, carry permit applicants are specifically afforded a hearing if a police chief denies an application. The statute, however, is silent whether a judge must provide a hearing if the Court intends to deny an application that has been approved by a police chief.
Carlstrom hired the Nappen Firm to appeal the “trial” court’s decision. Nevertheless, on December 21, 2018, Appellate Division Judges Michael J. Haas and Stephanie Ann Mitterhoff affirmed Judge Daniel’s opinion, deciding that Carlstrom had “no authority to support his argument that a hearing is required in matters involving perfunctory licensing applications or that the court must hear testimony from the chief of police who reviewed an application.”
The Nappen Firm believed differently and appealed higher, Petitioning for Certification to the New Jersey Supreme Court on behalf of Carlstrom.
After this filing, on May 20, 2019, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) promulgated Administrative Directive #06-19: Criminal – Procedures for Processing Gun Permits, which provided that trial courts must hold a hearing if it has any questions regarding the applicant or his or her permit to carry application. Today’s NJSC Opinion affirmatively incorporates the AOC Directive into precedential case law that county judges must now follow.
The NJSC Opinion also mandates that carry permit hearings “must be held no later than 30 days after receipt of the permit to carry application, and the court shall make a determination within 14 days thereafter, absent extraordinary circumstances.”
Carlstrom’s Appellate and Supreme Court matters were briefed and argued by Louis P. Nappen, Esq., of the Law firm of Evan F. Nappen, Attorney at Law, PC, Eatontown NJ.
In response to the NJSC Opinion, Louis Nappen said, “This is an outstanding Due Process victory for gun owners. This will be particularly important when the United States Supreme Court – we anticipate – provides a heightened scrutiny level to the right to carry and scraps New Jersey’s ‘justifiable need’ requirement for the issuance of carry permits. People will now be assured their days in court if a judge intends to deny this Constitutional right.”
The New Jersey Supreme Court further remanded Carlstrom’s matter back to the Law Division to conduct a hearing on his application with guidance as to the scope of that hearing. The NJSC noted that, at that hearing, at the judge’s discretion, amendments to the application as well as other evidence not included in the application may be admitted, as well as evidence regarding discussions with the police chief and any written conclusions by the reviewing chief and testimony from the applicant or his or her employer.
The opinion may be read by clicking here: https://njcourts.gov/attorneys/assets/opinions/supreme/a_63_18.pdf?c=cdi
re Application for Permit to Carry a Handgun of Calvin Carlstrom
About Evan Nappen:
Evan Nappen (www.EvanNappen.com) is a criminal defense attorney who has focused on New Jersey firearms and weapons law for several decades. He is the author of the New Jersey Gun Law Guide. Visit his website at www.EvanNappen.com