The Civil Litigation Unit of the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor is responsible for overseeing and handling the civil matters of the Office. These include bringing civil forfeiture actions, overseeing actions where the Office or its members are named parties and responding to subpoenas and requests under the Open Public Records Act.
Civil forfeiture actions are instituted against money or property that is deemed to be the proceeds of illegal activity or that has been or was intended to be used in furtherance of an indictable crime. Such property may consist of automobiles, technology, electronics or other items. The purpose of seeking forfeiture of this money or property is to prevent criminals from profiting from their unlawful conduct, to prevent the use of this money or property in future crimes and to deter future acts of criminality. The State bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, the criminal character of the property, while claimants have the right to challenge the forfeiture. If the State prevails in a forfeiture action, the forfeited money or property is utilized solely for law enforcement purposes.
The Civil Litigation Unit provides subpoenaed materials for civil lawsuits. If a civil subpoena is returnable prior to the resolution of the related criminal case, and the Office determines that disclosure of the materials will jeopardize the criminal prosecution, Motions to Quash or Motions for Protective Orders are filed.
Additionally, in civil actions where the Office is a named party, the Civil Litigation Unit acts, as a liaison to and in consultation with, civil attorneys representing the Office. We track the progress of both state and federal lawsuits and prepare concise summaries of same.
Another task undertaken by the Civil Litigation Unit is replying to queries under the Open Public Records Act. It is imperative that requestors receive, in a timely manner, all records to which they are entitled. This promotes transparency in government, a chief goal of OPRA.