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55 Rutgers L. Rev. 641 (2002-2003)
Liability for Prosecutorial Misdeeds: Is Wright Right for New Jersey

handle is hein.journals/rutlr55 and id is 651 raw text is: Liability for Prosecutorial Misdeeds: Is Wright Right for
New Jersey?
Crystal L. Younge*
In July 2001, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided Wright v.
State' and held that under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act
(NJTCA),2 the State may be held vicariously liable for the tortious
acts of county prosecutors when prosecutors and subordinates
investigate and enforce New Jersey's criminal laws.3 Furthermore,
the court held that the State must defend and indemnify these
alleged wrongdoers.4 This vicarious liability issue had been unsettled
until Wright was decided.' There is a line of cases that holds the
particular county vicariously liable for the prosecutorial officials'
tortious acts.' There is also a line of cases that holds that the State
could be liable in certain circumstances.7
This Note will discuss the potential positive and negative
ramifications the Wright decision will have on the New Jersey
Attorney General's Office in terms of future liability, defense and
indemnification costs. In addition, this Note will trace history of
* J.D. Candidate, Rutgers University School of Law - Newark, 2003; A.B.,
Brown University, 1995. I would like to thank my family and loved ones for their
support during my law school career, especially Mom, Gram, Hardy, Keith, Jimilah,
Mia, Donita and Kathy. I give a special thank you to Rashaan, for his unwavering
love, support and encouragement. Thanks to the staff of the Rutgers Law Review for
assisting me with editing this Note. Finally, I dedicate this Note to Krystle, Lauren,
Ebony and Christopher, my reasons for attending law school.
1. 778 A.2d 443 (N.J. 2001).
2. N.J. STAT. ANN. §§ 59:1-1 to 59:12-3 (West 1992 & Supp. 2002).
3. Wright, 778 A.2d at 464.
4. Id.
5. See Cashen v. Spann, 334 A.2d 8, 14 (N.J. 1975) (holding that county
prosecutors and detectives were State agents where the alleged tortious conduct arose
out of the investigation of criminal activity). But c.f Coleman v. Kaye, 87 F.3d 1491,
1499 (3d Cir. 1996) (concluding that county prosecutors act on behalf of the county
when they make personnel decisions); Michaels v. New Jersey, 968 F. Supp. 230, 238
(D.N.J. 1997) (holding that county prosecutors are not traditionally considered State
6. See, e.g., Coleman, 87 F.3d at 1499.
7. See, e.g., Cashen, 334 A.2d at 14.

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