STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. JOHN C. VAN NESS
Defendant was convicted of third degree theft by deception, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4, and fourth degree bad checks, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5. The Criminal Division Manger twice rejected his application for representation by the Public Defender. The trial judge accepted this rejection as final. Under In re Custodian of Records, Criminal Div. Manager, 214 N.J. 147, 152 (2013), no rejection is final until the Assignment Judge or the Assignment Judge's designee reviews it. This court holds that when the Criminal Division Manager denies a defendant's application for representation by the Public Defender, the trial judge should assign temporary counsel, as Rule 3:4-2(b) now provides, and inform defendant of the right to have the application reviewed by the Assignment Judgment or designee. N.J.S.A. 2A:158A-15.1.
The trial judge also misapplied State v. King, 210 N.J. 2 (2012), when he relied on the following as evidence of defendant's knowing and voluntary waiver of his Constitutional right to counsel: (1) the Criminal Division Manager's denial of defendant's application for representation by the Public Defender; and (2) defendant's failure to obtain private counsel.