NJ: Gov. Murphy Vetoes 12 Bills, Signs Law Protecting Sex Victims

[patch.com – 5/13/19]

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation to help protect sex-abuse victims while also vetoing 12 bills on Monday.

Murphy signed legislation (S477) extending the statute of limitations in civil actions for sexual abuse claims. The signing comes just days after a law firm released the names of more than 100 people who allegedly committed sexual abuse while serving in the Catholic church’s clergy.

The law also creates a two-year window for parties to bring lawsuits based on sexual abuse that would be time-barred even with the new statute of limitations, and expands the categories of potential defendants in civil actions.

“Survivors of sexual abuse deserve opportunities to seek redress against their abusers,” said Murphy. “This legislation allows survivors who have faced tremendous trauma the ability to pursue justice through the court system. I thank the bill’s sponsors for their commitment to tackling this issue, as well as the advocates for their activism and engagement.”

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“At the plenary hearing the court shall hear all credible evidence and the Rules of Evidence shall not apply,”

Uh, how does that work?

Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, including but not limited to the “New Jersey Tort Claims Act,” N.J.S.59:1-1 et seq., a public entity is liable in an action for damages brought under the provisions of section 1 of P.L.1992, c.109 (C.2A:61B-1), paragraph (1) of subsection c. of section 1 of P.L.1959, c.90 (C.2A:53A-7) or section 1 of P.L.2005, c.264 (C.2A:53A-7.4).

I could see this liability change to make it harder for registered offenders to get work in NJ.

In addition, for a period of two years following the effective date, the provisions of this act shall also revive any action previously filed that was dismissed on grounds that the applicable statute of limitations had expired

Is that constitutional?

First, I don’t get how extending the statute of limitations for civil suits against sexual assailants is “protecting sex victims.” Strikes me as simple pandering.

Second, @ Bo: Simply put, the constitution doesn’t apply to registrants, as shown by the myriad of work, residence, and presence restrictions and registration procedures, variances from city to city, county to county, and state to state. And none of them are punitive because the legislatures never intended them to be. Kind of like how the Rams won the Super Bowl this year – they didn’t intend to lose.