MacNeil v. Klein

CourtNew Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
Writing for the CourtThe opinion of the court was delivered by HORN
Citation358 A.2d 488,141 N.J.Super. 394
Decision Date09 March 1976
PartiesAlbert MacNEIL et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Ann KLEIN, Commissioner of the Department of Institutions and Agencies of the State of New Jersey, individually and in her official capacity, et al., Defendants-Respondents.

Page 394

141 N.J.Super. 394
358 A.2d 488
Albert MacNEIL et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Ann KLEIN, Commissioner of the Department of Institutions
and Agencies of the State of New Jersey,
individually and in her official
capacity, et al.,
Defendants-Respondents.
Superior Court of New Jersey,
Appellate Division.
Argued March 9, 1976.
Decided April 1976.

[358 A.2d 490]

Page 398

Steven L. Lefelt and Richard G. Singer, Newark, for appellants.

Joseph T. Maloney, Deputy Atty. Gen., for respondent Klein (William F. Hyland, Atty. Gen., attorney; Stephen Skillman, Asst. Atty. Gen., of counsel).

William E. Ozzard, Somerset County Counsel, Somerville, for respondents Maggio and Balent.

Franklin H. Berry, Jr., Ocean County Counsel, Toms River, for respondents Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Ocean and Brown.

A brief was submitted by John T. Madden, Sussex County Counsel, Newton, on behalf of respondents Cardineau and Willis.

A brief was submitted by Ivan M. Sherman, Cumberland County Counsel, Bridgeton, on behalf of respondents Scarani and DiBiase.

A brief was submitted by Harold J. Ruvoldt, Jr., Hudson County Counsel, Jersey City, on behalf of respondents, Officials of the County of Hudson (Arthur G. Williamson, Asst. County Counsel, North Bergen, on the brief).

A statement in lieu of brief was submitted by Edwin K. Large, Jr., Hunterdon County Counsel, Flemington, on behalf of respondents Winter and Atkinson.

A statement in lieu of brief was submitted by Eugene P. Chell, Gloucester County Counsel, Woodbury, on behalf of respondents, Officials of the County of Gloucester.

Page 399

A statement in lieu of brief was submitted by Herman B. Hoffman, Middlesex County Counsel, Highland Park, on behalf [358 A.2d 491] of respondents, Officials of the County of Middlesex (Lawrence J. Fitzhenry, Asst. County Counsel, Edison, on the statement).

A statement in lieu of brief was submitted by Ralph V. Mancini, Union County Counsel, Elizabeth, on behalf of respondents Maguire and Carey.

A statement in lieu of brief was submitted by Robert L. Schumann, Warren County Counsel, Washington, on behalf of respondents Bosco and Scheffler.

A statement in lieu of brief was submitted by John J. Pillsbury, Monmouth County Counsel, Middletown, on behalf of respondents Irwin and Cook.

A statement in lieu of brief was submitted by Francis Patrick McQuade, Essex County Counsel, Maplewood, on behalf of respondents Cooke, Scanlon and Magnusson.

Page 398

Before Judges LYNCH, LARNER and HORN.

Page 399

The opinion of the court was delivered by HORN, J.A.D.

Plaintiffs, 47 in number, are or were at the time when they instituted this action on April 17, 1974 inmates in county detention facilities as pretrial detainees or as convicted prisoners. They instituted a class action in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Mercer County, as representatives of all prisoners incarcerated in the county jails of New Jersey, asserting that their prerogatives to be free from cruel and unusual punishment (including grossly inadequate medical care, the lack of rehabilitative programs, invasions of privacy and interference with their right of communication), their rights to counsel, to due process and to access to the courts, and similar conditions (including arbitrary and inhumane limitations on visitation and association) were being denied in each of said county facilities,

Page 400

in violation of sections of the United States Constitution, the New Jersey Constitution and various laws of this State.

Defendants are the respective sheriffs, wardens and other county officials alleged to exercise or having the power to exercise 'custody, rule, keeping and charge' of the respective facilities in all the counties of the States Additionally the complaint names as a defendant Ann Klein, individually and as Commissioner of the Department of Institutions and Agencies of the State of New Jersey, on the allegations that she is responsible for the administration of the county penal institutions as well as the care and custody of the inmates thereof, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 30:1--2 and 30:1--14; that she is empowered by N.J.S.A. 30:1--15 to supervise and inspect local penal institutions with respect to the proper management thereof, with the power to institute civil actions against those who violate the efficient and humane administration thereof, N.J.S.A. 30:1--16, and that her failure to perform her obligations constitutes a violation of plaintiffs' civil rights, entitling them to a remedy against her under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983. 1

Plaintiffs appeal because, after hearings on appropriate motions filed by counsel for the respective defendants, the trial judge (1) dismissed the action against Klein individually and as Commissioner on the ground that the complaint failed to state a cause of action against her, R. 4:6--2, and (2) dismissed the action against all parties except the officials of Mercer County, on the ground that they were improperly joined as defendants, R. 4:29--1(a). 2

[358 A.2d 492] After orders implementing the trial judge's decisions were entered and notices of appeal were filed with the Appellate Division all appeals were consolidated in this Division.

Page 401

The complaint recognizes that conditions and the asserted deficiencies are different in each facility, and that certain alleged deficiencies or substandard conditions in some facilities are not present in others or are present to different degrees. The complaint so indicates and it is patently asserted that the objective of the action and the purpose of joining all the parties from outside Mercer County is to 'establish state-wide minimum constitutional standards' and to obtain relief as to each facility in accordance with those standards.

THE DISMISSAL IN FAVOR OF COMMISSIONER KLEIN

Plaintiffs first aver that the duties imposed by various statutes upon Klein are mandatory, but even if they are only discretionary the trial judge erred in entering the dismissal in her favor. The statutes creating the duties, say plaintiffs, are N.J.S.A. 30:1--15 and 16. Under the former the Commissioner (and the State Board of Institutional Trustees) has the power of 'visitation and inspection' of all county jails and places of detention for the purpose of inspecting and observing the physical condition thereof, the physical condition of the inmates, the care, treatment and discipline thereof, and also to determine whether such persons so committed are properly and adequately boarded, lodged, treated, cared for and maintained. She and said state board may make such report with reference to the result of such observation and inspection and such recommendations with reference thereto as they may determine.

Under N.J.S.A. 30:1--16 if it shall appear that

* * * the laws relating to the construction, management and affairs * * *, and the care, treatment, government and discipline of its inmates * * * are being violated, or that inmates * * * are cruelly, negligently or improperly treated or inadequate provision is made for their sustenance * * * or other condition necessary to their suitable and proper well being, the Commissioner * * * May institute a civil action against the proper (persons) responsible for such violation or omission. (Emphasis supplied.)

Page 402

N.J.S.A. 30:1--17 permits the right and powers, 'so far as they relate to the investigation of the * * * agencies,' to be enforced by a civil action. If the Commissioner believes any such matter regarding the management or affairs of any such institution or any inmate requires legal investigation or action of any kind, the Commissioner may give notice to the county prosecutor, who shall make inquiry and take such proceedings as he may deem necessary and proper.

Observing that the nonmandatory word 'may' is used as indicated in N.J.S.A. 30:1--16, plaintiffs contend that since it is employed in the statute to delegate power the exercise of which is important for the protection of the public interests, and Since it can clearly be taken from the statute, a mandatory significance was intended. Kennelly v. Jersey City, 57 N.J.L. 293, 30 A. 531 (Sup.Ct.1894); McDonald v. Hudson Cty. Bd. of Chosen Freeholders, 99 N.J.L. 170, 122 A. 801 (E. & A. 1923); Bayonne v. North Jersey, etc., Comm'n, 30 N.J.Super. 409, 417, 105 A.2d 19 (App.Div.1954).

We do not agree with this contention. We find no clear evidence of the intention to impose mandatory responsibilities on the Commissioner by virtue of these enactments. Most importantly, the word 'may' should be given the meaning which conforms to the legislative intent. Harvey v. Essex Cty. Bd. of Freeholders, 30 N.J. 381, 391--392, 153 A.2d 10 (1959). See also, Leeds v. Harrison, 9 N.J. 202, 87 A.2d 713 [358 A.2d 493] (1952); Diodato v. Camden Cty. Park Comm'n, 136 N.J.Super. 324, 346 A.2d 100 (App.Div.1975).

In this process it is necessary to determine the sense of the statutory scheme in which the words appear. Durgin v. Brown, 37 N.J. 189, 197, 180 A.2d 136 (1962). The Commissioner heads the Department of Institutions and Agencies, N.J.S.A. 30:1--2, and has the power to determine all matters relating to the development and regulation of the administration of all institutions 'within his jurisdiction.' Such rules, regulations, orders and directions issued by the Commissioner shall be accepted and enforced by the executive in

Page 403

charge of any institution within the jurisdiction of the department. N.J.S.A. 30:1--12. The correctional institutions of the Department are specified in N.J.S.A. 30:1--7. None of the county detention facilities is included.

Therefore, the Commissioner has the power to issue orders, rules and regulations for the state correctional institutions, being the prisons, reformatories and certain other enumerated institutions within her Department, and to administer and control them. In contrast, as already shown, the applicable statutes give her only the mere...

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13 practice notes
  • Cameron v. S. Jersey Pubs, Inc., DOCKET NO. A-5177-17T2
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • July 11, 2019
    ...R. 4:32-1(b)(2). Certification under (b)(2) is appropriate where one injunction can remedy the harmful conduct. See MacNeil v. Klein, 141 N.J. Super. 394, 412-13, 358 A.2d 488 (App. Div. 1976) (observing that (b)(2) class certification would be inappropriate to remedy adverse but disparate ......
  • Cogdell by Cogdell v. Hospital Center at Orange
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 24, 1989
    ...interest." Allen B. DuMont Laboratories, Inc. v. Marcalus Mfg. Co., 30 N.J. 290, 298, 152 A.2d 841 (1959); see MacNeil v. Ann Klein, 141 N.J.Super. 394, 406, 358 A.2d 488 (App.Div.1976); Jennings v. M & M Transp. Co., 104 N.J.Super. 265, 272, 249 A.2d 631 (Ch.Div.1969). Under our own joinde......
  • Rendine v. Pantzer
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • July 14, 1994
    ...two cases had been severed for trial. Page 429 Moreover, on the propriety of joinder, we explained R. 4:29-1(a) in MacNeil v. Klein, 141 N.J.Super. 394, 358 A.2d 488 (App.Div.), certif. denied, 72 N.J. 455, 371 A.2d 60 The aim of permissive joinder is to allow all parties to obtain the larg......
  • Mitchem v. Melton, No. 15136
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 12, 1981
    ...195 Colo. 521, 579 P.2d 1165 (1978); Dickerson v. Warden, Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 298 N.W.2d 841 (1980); MacNeil v. Klein, 141 N.J.Super. 394, 358 A.2d 488 (1976); Cooper v. Morin, 49 N.Y.2d 69, 399 N.E.2d 1188, 424 N.Y.S.2d 168 (1979); Commonwealth ex rel. Saunders v. Creamer, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Cameron v. S. Jersey Pubs, Inc., DOCKET NO. A-5177-17T2
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • July 11, 2019
    ...R. 4:32-1(b)(2). Certification under (b)(2) is appropriate where one injunction can remedy the harmful conduct. See MacNeil v. Klein, 141 N.J. Super. 394, 412-13, 358 A.2d 488 (App. Div. 1976) (observing that (b)(2) class certification would be inappropriate to remedy adverse but disparate ......
  • Cogdell by Cogdell v. Hospital Center at Orange
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 24, 1989
    ...interest." Allen B. DuMont Laboratories, Inc. v. Marcalus Mfg. Co., 30 N.J. 290, 298, 152 A.2d 841 (1959); see MacNeil v. Ann Klein, 141 N.J.Super. 394, 406, 358 A.2d 488 (App.Div.1976); Jennings v. M & M Transp. Co., 104 N.J.Super. 265, 272, 249 A.2d 631 (Ch.Div.1969). Under our own joinde......
  • Rendine v. Pantzer
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • July 14, 1994
    ...two cases had been severed for trial. Page 429 Moreover, on the propriety of joinder, we explained R. 4:29-1(a) in MacNeil v. Klein, 141 N.J.Super. 394, 358 A.2d 488 (App.Div.), certif. denied, 72 N.J. 455, 371 A.2d 60 The aim of permissive joinder is to allow all parties to obtain the larg......
  • Mitchem v. Melton, No. 15136
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • May 12, 1981
    ...195 Colo. 521, 579 P.2d 1165 (1978); Dickerson v. Warden, Marquette Prison, 99 Mich.App. 630, 298 N.W.2d 841 (1980); MacNeil v. Klein, 141 N.J.Super. 394, 358 A.2d 488 (1976); Cooper v. Morin, 49 N.Y.2d 69, 399 N.E.2d 1188, 424 N.Y.S.2d 168 (1979); Commonwealth ex rel. Saunders v. Creamer, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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