Post-conviction relief in New Jersey is often fraught with many difficulties, making it one of the most challenging areas of the law to practice in. One of its most challenging aspects is the five year time bar under New Jersey Court Rule 3:22-1. The relaxing of that time bar, which is under the legal concept of “excusable neglect” pursuant to N.J.C.R. 3:22-12(a), is one of the most hotly contested aspects of post-conviction relief petitions.
Having handled hundreds of post-conviction relief petitions over the years, I have seen a varied treatment of the time bar among the judges. Some judges give little leeway to litigants filing for post-conviction after the five year time bar whereas others are more sympathetic to relaxing the restrictions, particularly if the post-conviction relief concerns immigration issues. One thing is clear: the five year time bar is something to be concerned about when filing for post-conviction relief.