Update: In its February 1, 2017 report, the Municipal Court Practices Committee rejected my December 1, 2015 request for a rule change that would resolve the problem set forth below.
Today, I learned that the Bloomfield Municipal Court (Essex County) did not prepare a formal complaint (called a CDR or special form of complaint) in 2012 when a citizen sought to file a complaint against a police officer from Middlesex County. Rather, the Bloomfield court recorded the citizen’s complaint on its own informal “Complaint Information Form.”
CDRs and special forms of complaint each bear a unique control number and must be entered into the Automated Complaint System (ACS) (i.e. the municipal court’s centralized computer system) when completed. This allows cases to be identified by and tracked through the ACS. An example of a CDR is on-line here.
Bloomfield’s “Complaint Information Form,” however, is just a letter-sized piece of paper which bears no control number and is not entered into the ACS. This means that a person who queries the ACS for a complaint will not find it if it was recorded on Complaint Information Form instead of a CDR or special form.
The complaint at issue was brought by Joseph Scurese against Bernadette Yates. It was found to have probable cause by the Bloomfield Municipal Court and proceeded to mediation. Yet, no CDR or special form of complaint ever issued. Had I not learned about Scurese’s complaint from reading his civil lawsuit, I would have never been able to find it by querying the ACS.