In re Request to Release Certain Pretrial Detainees

In re Request to Release Certain Pretrial Detainees was an Order to Show Cause, which raised questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of in-person criminal jury trials on defendants who have been detained pretrial. The Supreme Court held that N.J.S.A. 2A:162-19(f) offers a path for potential relief under the present circumstances. Pursuant to that provision, a defendant can apply to reopen detention hearings if they can present information that was not known at the time of the initial hearing and that “has a material bearing” on the release decision. The pandemic’s unexpected duration coupled with the continued suspension of jury trials, with no clear end date for either, constitutes new information within the statute’s meaning. Materiality is a separate issue and depends on a defendant’s individual circumstances. To assess whether delays caused by the pandemic are material to the level of risk a defendant poses, the Court laid out 5 factors trial judges should consider.

In-the-Matter-of-the-Request-to-Release-Certain-Pretrial-Detainees