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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Office of the Governor.)

Murphy to veto mandatory minimums bill — again

By Nikita Biryukov, June 25 2021 10:51 am

Gov. Phil Murphy announced he would again conditionally veto a bill eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for a series of drug and property crimes that also eliminated sentencing guidelines for official misconduct and related offenses.

Though he supported a previous version of the bill, Murphy balked after State Sen. Nicholas Sacco (D-North Bergen) amended the measure to also remove minimum sentences for official misconduct, which carries a penalty of at least five years imprisonment.

Its inclusion went against the recommendations of the Criminal Sentencing and Disposition Commission, upon whose advice the original bill was based.

“This provision had neither been studied nor recommended by the Commission,” Murphy said in a veto statement issued Thursday.

He won’t actually strike the bill until Monday, June 28.

Murphy vetoed an identical bill in April over the inclusion of official misconduct and other offenses to the public trust, including some bribery charges. At the same time, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a directive ordering prosecutors to waive mandatory minimums for a small subset of low-level drug crimes.

Lawmakers, first in the Senate, advanced the bill again, hoping time and sustained advocacy in the legislation’s favor from the New Jersey Bar Association and faith groups would change the governor’s mind.

It didn’t.

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