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Law School Case Brief

City of Newark v. J.S. - 279 N.J. Super. 178, 652 A.2d 265 (Super. Ct. 1993)

Rule:

Due process limits police power. U.S. Const. amend. XIV requires that deprivation of life, liberty or property by adjudication be preceded by notice and opportunity for hearing appropriate to the nature of the case. The parameters of due process require an analysis of both the individual and governmental interests involved and the consequences and avoidability of the risks of error and abuse.

Facts:

Plaintiff city filed a verified complaint with the emergent duty judge (New Jersey) and obtained a temporary commitment order and an order to show cause. Plaintiff sought a final order committing defendant to a local hospital until the state commissioner of health was satisfied that defendant had recovered to the extent he was not a menace to the community. This opinion amplified oral findings rendered at the conclusion of a commitment hearing. This case presented novel issues that surrounded tuberculosis (TB). It required a review of the state's TB control statute to determine if it fulfilled due process requirements and complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C.S. §§ 12101-12213. The opinion amplified findings rendered in defendant's commitment hearing. The emergent duty judge determined that there was statutory authority to have involuntarily committed a person with TB to a hospital and that the procedures applicable to involuntary civil commitments must have been followed. If the procedures were adhered to and the least restrictive means of treatment was determined, the requirements of both due process and the ADA would have been fulfilled.

Issue:

Did New Jersey's TB control statute fulfill due process requirements and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The procedures employed here complied with due process and plaintiff city proved the need for defendant's commitment. The ADA was satisfied, as the decision was based upon the nature of the risk as to how TB was transmitted, the duration of the risk as to how long defendant was infectious, the severity of the risk as to what the potential harm to third parties was, and the probabilities the disease would have been transmitted or caused harm. The order of commitment was granted and was to have incorporated by reference defendant patient's rights as set forth in the applicable laws regarding civil commitments, to the extent feasible and practical. As long as involuntary civil commitment procedures were followed, there was authority to have involuntarily committed a person with tuberculosis to a hospital. Any provisions that related only to mental health issues needed not apply.

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