In a landmark opinion by the United States Supreme Court in Florida v. Jardines, 569 U.S. ___ (2013), the Court held that the use of a police dog to sniff for narcotics on the front porch of a private home is considered a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, requiring both probable cause and a search warrant.
Ambrosio & Tomczak is pleased to announce that Gregory E. Tomczak, Esq. and Michael J. Jurista, Esq. have each been recognized in New Jersey Monthly magazine by Super Lawyers as a 2013 New Jersey Rising Star. Mr. Tomczak was selected as a Rising Star in the area of white collar criminal defense and Mr. Jurista was selected as a Rising Star in the area of business litigation. This honor is reserved for less than 2.5% of attorneys in New Jersey.
Gregory E. Tomczak, Esq. Recognized as a "New Leader of the Bar" - One of the Top 50 Attorneys in New Jersey Under Age 40
In 2012, the New Jersey Law Journal recognized 50 lawyers that they consider emblematic of the next wave of leadership of the New Jersey bar, based on their achievements so far in their careers. This year, Partner, Gregory Tomczak, Esq., has been included on the list and recognized as one of the top 50 attorneys in New Jersey under the age of 40.
The stated criteria for selection of these rising stars are that they have developed practice niches, amassed strong books of business, demonstrated leadership qualities, shown expertise in litigation or transactional work and committed themselves to pro bono, charitable and professional volunteer work. All of these factors tend to make an individual stand out among his or her peers.
No two of the 50 were selected for identical reasons. They have distinguishable qualities and have structured their careers differently, yet each stands out in some way, however nuanced, and each is deserving of this distinction.
No preference was given to partners at larger firms, but they are well-represented, because by making partner before age 40, they have demonstrated to their firms much the same qualities that are focused on during the selection process. From their standpoint as observers of the New Jersey legal profession, these young lawyers are well worth watching.
Greg's Profile provided, in part, as follows:
Tomczak has established himself as an accomplished trial lawyer in both criminal and complex commercial litigation. In 2009, he became certified as a Criminal Trial Attorney after only five years of practice. He has represented criminal clients ranging from the leader of the Bloods street gang to corporate clients charged with white collar crimes. Tomczak has also had success in complex commercial litigation spanning virtually all industries. He has been especially successful in resolving shareholder/partnership disputes on behalf of minority shareholders. Tomczak was also part of a team that represented the former president of Stevens Institute of Technology in a civil action filed against the school by the New Jersey attorney general. In firm management, he is the leader of the entire litigation practice, including handling cases from inception through verdict. His notable clients include Vincent Young, leader of a set of the Bloods Street gang, charged with offenses under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act; Panico Salons, as general counsel for all legal matters; and Wholesale Lighting Services Inc., as general counsel for all legal matters. In addition to legal work, Tomczak is a member of the board of trustees of the Red Bank YMCA and devotes a significant amount of time raising money for the Y.
In State v. Kaitner, A-8 Sept. Term. 20011 (decided May 1, 2012), the issue was whether Long Branch police officers who responded to a noise complaint properly seized pills and a controlled dangerous substance belonging the home owner. The Supreme Court of New Jersey, in a per curium opinion, affirmed the Appellate Court ruling that the search was improper and that the CDS must be suppressed.
In October 2009, Long Beach police officers responded to a noise complaint at a home rented by the Defendant and four other persons. While searching for the home owners, a police officer eventually made his way into Defendant's bedroom where pills and an alleged CDS were located. When the Defendant, who was not at the home at the time of the party or the search, returned to the home, he was arrested and charged with possession of a CDS.
In ruling that the search at issue was impermissible, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with the Appellate Division that although the initial entry into the home to deal with the noise complaint was lawful, the officers' searching of the entire home was not objectionably reasonable to abate the noise violation. Furthermore, the Court noted that the Defendant retained a reasonable exception of privacy in his bedroom.
Ambrosio & Tomczak is pleased to announce that Gregory E. Tomczak, Esq. and Michael J. Jurista, Esq. have each been recognized in New Jersey Monthly magazine by Super Lawyers as a 2012 New Jersey Rising Star. Mr. Tomczak was selected as a Rising Star in the area of white collar criminal defense and Mr. Jurista was selected as a Rising Star in the area of business litigation. This honor is reserved for less than 2.5% of attorneys in New Jersey.
Previously, Mr. Tomczak has been named a Rising Star in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Ambrosio & Tomczak provides strategic results-driven legal counsel and business solutions to a wide variety of clients throughout New Jersey and New York. Ambrosio & Tomczak's primary areas of practice include Corporate Services, Commercial Litigation, Solid Waste Compliance & Litigation, Government Investigations & Criminal Defense, Real Estate, Personal Injury, and Bankruptcy.
In the first case of its kind in the District of New Jersey, Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan tacitly approved what is known as a Chapter 20 bankruptcy filing. A "Chapter 20" bankruptcy, which is not found in the bankruptcy code, is a term for a debtor filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy after filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and receiving a Chapter 7 discharge on unsecured debts.
Note that the debtor cannot receive a Chapter 13 discharge if the debtor received a Chapter 7 discharge in a Chapter 7 case filed within the last 4 years.
A debtor can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy after receiving a Chapter 7 discharge in order to handle liens that survived the Chapter 7 case. Or the debtor can manage a 3- or 5-year repayment plan of debts that were not discharged in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Essentially, the debtor gets additional time to pay off non-dischargeable debts and avoid collection actions by the creditors.
On November 18, 2011, in the matter captioned In re Scotto-DiClemente, 459 B.R. 558, Judge Kaplan held that: (1) the debtor's ability to use Chapter 13 plan to strip off wholly unsecured junior mortgage liens on his principal residence was not contingent upon debtor's receipt of Chapter 13 discharge; and (2) the Chapter 13 case, while filed close on heels of Chapter 7 case in which debtor was granted a dis-charge only six months earlier, was not filed in "bad faith," so as to be subject to dismissal.
As reported in the New York Times, Bankruptcy filings fell nearly 12 percent in 2011 from the year before.
During 2011, there were approximately 1.4 million bankruptcy filings. The vast majority of the filings -- about 70 percent -- are Chapter 7 bankruptcies, which allow individuals to avoid repaying their debts if they pass a means test. The substantial majority of the remaining filings were under Chapter 13 of the Code, which requires filers to pay back a portion of their debts over three to five years.
Anyone wishing to discuss their options under the bankruptcy code should call to make an appointment.
In a case of great technological interest, on February 29, 2012, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Flores-Lopez held that searching a cell phone found on a defendant incident to an arrest is a permissble warrantless search.
In Flores-Lopez, the defendant was arrested for selling drugs. At the time of his arrest, an officer located and searched a cell phone in his possession for the purpose of determing the cell phone's number. Subsequently, the government used the cell phone number to subpoena three-months worth of defendant's cell phone records. After the defendant was convicted, the defendant appealed the conviction on the ground that the cell phone records were obtained via an impermissible search.
In upholding the conviction, the Court considered many factors including the nature of today's cell phone technology. For example, the Court noted that cell phones of today can be equipped with applications which allow a user to remotely wipe a cell phone of all of its data.
Although the search was deemed permissible, and thus the conviction upheld, the Court noted that not all searches of this kind would neccesarily be permissible. Indeed, the Court of Appeals noted that this search only yielded a cell phone number and the result may have been different had the government improperly obtained data, as opposed to just the cell phone number.
On January 9, 2012, Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill that creates the New Jersey Trade Secrets Act, modeled after the Uniform Trade Secrets Act which has been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia.This Act provides specific remedies to businesses in the event that a trade secret is misappropriated.
Pursuant to the terms of the Act, trade secrets which may be subject to protection include, but are not limited to, proprietary information with economic value such as a formula, method, design, invention, drawing, program device, process or business data compilation which has been subject to reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.
Any business harmed pursuant to the Act may seek an injunctive relief, damages resulting from actual loss or unjust enrichment, reasonable royalties, attorney's fees, expert fees and/or punitive damages.
Citing 30 examples of organized crime infiltration, the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) recently released a far reaching report alleging severe deficiencies in the state's Solid Waste Licensing Law, also known as the A-901 Law, and recommended changes allegedly designed to broaden its scope in an effort to combat corruption in the solid waste and recycling industries. The 78 page report, released to the public on December 6, 2011, may be reviewed in its entirely on the SCI website.
Among the key findings of the report are that solid waste and recycling industry today "remains open to manipulation and abuse by criminal elements that circumvent the State's existing regulatory and oversight system ..." and that convicted felons, including organized crime members and associates, profit heavily from commercial recycling, which, though a lucrative adjunct to solid waste, has remained largely unregulated." The SCI report went on to state that "Commission's latest investigation has revealed that individuals who were banned from the solid waste industry in New Jersey years ago because of ties to organized crime or other criminal activities nonetheless have found ways to conduct a lucrative commerce in waste-hauling and recycling here."
While the intent of the regulatory changed proposed by the SCI is laudable, they have been widely criticized since their release and no doubt will make the already cumbersome process of obtaining and maintaining an A-901 license even more so for legitimate business concerns.
This past week, the Judicial Conference of the United States instituted a new policy designed to deter litigants from constantly requesting that entire court records be sealed. The new policy states that federal judges are not to seal an entire court record unless required to do so by statute or "justified by a showing of extraordinary circumstances." Rather, federal judges are instructed to "blackout" confidential information or seal certain specific documents.
In a recent decision, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the the prior conviction of former state Senator Wayne Bryant. In upholding Bryant's former convictions on charges of honest services fraud, mail fraud and bribery, the Third Circuit rejected arguments that prosecutors allegedly violated Bryant's rights by interfering with pretrial witnesses, that the evidence was insufficient, and that the jury instructions were defective.
The facts surrounding Bryant's conviction have been well-published. In November 2008, a federal jury found that Bryant steered more than $10 million to R. Michael Gallegher, former dean of the School of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, in exchange for extra state funding and a "low show" teaching job (a job which was used to inflate Bryant's pension benefits). Based on the foregoing, Bryant was sentenced to four (4) years and Gallagher was sentenced to eighteen (18) months.
Ambrosio & Tomczak is a full service law firm.
In a decision of great import to mentally ill defendants, the Appellate Division recently overturned longstanding New Jersey precedent which required that an insanity defense first be raised in a separate trial before substantive issues were raised. In State v. Handy, A-04101-09, which overturned State v. Kahn, 175 N.J. Super. 72 (App. Div. 1980), the Appellate Division expressed concern that the former system was fundamentally unfair insofar as a defendant who succesfully pled insanity loses the chance to exonerate himself completely: "Rather than requiring the State to prove the elements of an offense in a criminal proceeding, Kahn essentially presumes that the State has already done so."
In reaching its decision, and in overturning Kahn, the Appellate Division explored other federal and state court decisions, as well as New Jersey's Code of Criminal Justice.
Notwitstanding the above, the Handy Court did express some concern that its decision could create some confusion for future juror members. As stated by Judge Jack Sabatino, "[j]urors may have some difficulty in appreciating how a defendant can legitimately argue in the first part of the trial that he acted rationally to defend himself and then take a seemingly opposite stance in the second phase by asserting his insanity." Because of the potential for confusion, the Court sent the issue to the Supreme Court's Committee on Criminal Practice to set up certain rules on how to deal with this situation.
Pursuant to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a judge shall disqualify himself/herself if they have a financial interest in the matter in controversy or in a party to a proceeding. Notwitstanding this judicial cannon, sometimes even the United States Supreme Court makes mistakes.
In a recent interview, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito recently revealed that he improperly took part in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, et al. because Justice Alito owned $2,000 worth of Disney stock (ABC, Inc., a subsidary of Walt Disney, Co., is also a party to the action). Although Alito voted against ABC's interest, Alito recognized that his particpation was a an overisght and should have been discovered during the normal course of conflct checks.