Christie’s Office: Separation of powers prevents Governor from intervening in Shaneen Allen case

Shaneen Allen and her sons Niare and Sincere

Shaneen Allen and her sons Niare and Sincere

Governor Chris Christie’s office responded to a constituent who had written in support of Shaneen Allen with a phone call stating that the separation of powers prevents the Governor from intervening in the Atlantic County prosecution.

Allen is a 27 year old single mother who is facing a possible 10 years in State Prison for bringing her Pennsylvania licensed handgun into New Jersey.  She is being prosecuted by Atlantic County Prosecutor James McClain, a Christie appointee.  McClain refused to allow Allen to enter the same Pre-Trial Intervention Program for first offenders that former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice was admitted to after he knocked out his then fiancee in an Atlantic City casino elevator last February.

Last week, McClain requested a three week adjournment in the case.  This was seen as a sign by Allen’s supporters that McClain is reconsidering his decision to prosecute due to the public outcry since the video of Rice beating his fiancee became public.

In the call from Christie’s office this afternoon to James Hogan of Howell Township, a young sounding man left a message stating that he was calling from the Governor’s office. Hogan forwarded the message to MMM:

Hi, This message is for Mr. James Hogan. I’m calling from the Governor’s office in regards to your letter about the Shaneen Allen case. I wanna let you know that the Governor is aware of the situation. However, due to the separation of powers the Governor does not have the jurisdiction to intervene at this time. If you have any further questions, you can give us a call back. At (609) 777-2500 Have a nice day sir.”

Listen to the recording here:

At his press conference in Long Branch last month, Christie said he was following the Allen case closely and that he would not take action, a pardon or the commutation of sentence, if she is convicted, until after the legal process had run its course.

The New Jersey Constitution gives the Governor broad powers regarding pardons.  Article II Section II.1 states:
   1.   The Governor may grant pardons and reprieves in all cases other than impeachment and treason, and may suspend and remit fines and forfeitures. A commission or other body may be established by law to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of executive clemency.

N.J. Stat. § 2A:167-3.1 provides that the Governor will report to the Legislature each reprieve, pardon, and commutation granted, stating the name of the convicted person, the crime for which the person was convicted, the sentence imposed, its date, the date of the pardon, reprieve or commutation and the reasons for granting same.

The statute requires that the Governor report to the Legislature the name of convicted persons who are issued a pardon, reprieve or commutation.  However, the statute does not appear to prohibit the Governor from issuing a preemptive pardon.

Christie’s spokesman Michael Drewniak declined to address whether the governor has the legal power to intervene in the case prior to trial. Rather, Drewniak referred to Christie’s public statements to the effect that he is following the case closely and will consider a pardon or commutation after the case has been adjudicated if he believes justice has not been done.


Posted: September 16th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Atlantic City, Atlantic County, Chris Christie, Crime, Crime and Punishment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, Guns, Monmouth County, New Jersey, News, NJ Constitution, Shaneen Allen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

12 Comments on “Christie’s Office: Separation of powers prevents Governor from intervening in Shaneen Allen case”

  1. UPDATE: Bramnick Goes to Bat for Shaneen Allen; Christie Won’t Act Pre-Adjudication | The Save Jersey Blog said at 5:26 pm on September 16th, 2014:

    […] he was told by the Governor’s spokesman, Michael Drewniak, that the pardon power is “only available once a case is adjudicated and upon formal request to the governor for consideration.” It’s an interesting question and, to the best of my knowledge, preemptive pardons are […]

  2. Frank Jack Fiamingo said at 5:58 pm on September 16th, 2014:

    We do not expect the Governor to issue a pardon in a case where the individual has yet to be convicted. We do expect Governor Christie to provide “guidance and support” to an appointed prosecutor who is clearly in need of such assistance. The decision by Atlantic County prosecutor James P. McClain to make an example of Ms. Shaneen Allen was ill-advised.

    Shaneen mistakenly entered the “no rights zone” (commonly known as New Jersey) with her legally owned firearm. She was under the impression that her Pennsylvania permit to carry would be respected in the Garden State. She was wrong, However, she also did not hold up a WAWA. In fact she committed no crime other than BEING in NJ.

    Until a case goes to trial, it is the responsibility of the Executive Branch to see to it that the case is handled properly. The Governor of NJ is the Chief Executive, and therefore he does indeed have the authority, the responsibility and the moral obligation to make sure justice is served.

    Except perhaps for James P. McClain, no one in NJ believes that justice will be served by putting this young mother in prison for the imagined transgressions cooked up by our legislature.

  3. Amen. said at 9:02 pm on September 16th, 2014:

    Why is it becoming more about WHO you are, or aren’t, in this state/country? Chilling!

  4. TheWho said at 10:24 pm on September 16th, 2014:

    Speaking of who’s who, it seems worry some that the laws and punishments citizens are submitted to are so out of control and so far from reasonable that the states Chief Executive doesn’t seem to agree and even he claims he is unable to fix the problem. Either Christie is an incredibly weak leader, as weak as Obama, or our political system is so far beyond broken that no leader can harness our tumbling momentum and it would be better if it were dissolved.

    I copy and paste for thought:

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

    He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
    He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
    For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
    He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
    He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

    Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

    We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

  5. @ The Who said at 8:18 am on September 17th, 2014:

    First, I must agree that I am against the prosecution of Shaneen.

    Yes also, Christie should be counseling the fool headed prosector. But according to the laws of this State, and Separation Of Powers, he can not just wave his magic wand and make the case disappear.

    You know, I wonder. It seems according to your babbling that you disagree with Obama’s abuse of the Separation of State via his illegal executive orders. If so, you know there is nothing that Christie can do legally at this point as to making the charge go away. other than counsel. I am sure that has happened, and maybe that’s why there is a “3 week cooling off period.” Maybe there has been a change of heart by the prosecutor based on the reality of the picture that has been presented vis a vie Rice and the outpouring of complaints.

    So, cool your jets and wait for the process to play out. And, as to your comment? Yawn. Go ahead and break away from the United States.


    Silence Dogood, Redux

  6. Jim Granelli said at 11:41 am on September 17th, 2014:


    Mr. TheWho, or whomever you are. I really don’t like debating with people who hide behind anonymous names.

    But, it seems now that your fight should be with Senate President Sweeney, since he won’t hold a special session to find a fix to this.


    Or, maybe you should contact Larry & Joe, the Democrat Freeholder candidates to see what their opinion is and maybe see if they can have a talk with Sweeney.

    Oh, THAT’S right. SNAP! Democrats are anti gun.

  7. Jim Granelli said at 11:47 am on September 17th, 2014:

    Mr. TheWho, I’ll make it easy on you. Here’s Sweeney’s Contact Info:


    Make sure you get your friends to call!

  8. Joe Centonzi said at 6:40 pm on September 17th, 2014:

    Silence Dogood Redux – aka Wee Willy Wanker, aka The Dope From New Hope, aka Eichmeister’s Butt-Boy

  9. @@ The Who, said at 7:57 pm on September 17th, 2014:

    in answer to your two questions up too, I vote for both a. and b.. We are pretty much beyond repair, just like the creep-in-chief has planned: and, if some recent polls are right, and the Republicans are barely out- polling Dems in most Senate races we need to hold and take, shame on them, for getting so much destruction done, in 6 short years, and more shame on us,for being unable to articulate a clear message of a difference that people can buy into, to get them to switch to our side! Embarrassing and pathetic!-could be that our last chance to slow down this tide of socialism, is being squandered by the selfish,weak-kneed RINO incumbents,to all of our detriment and ruin.

  10. @@@at thewhodovoodoo said at 9:24 pm on September 17th, 2014:

    weakknee, rhymes with JimG! like Christie, he points the finger at another guy, blames a subordinate, that is a sign of being a weak leader. a real leader would own up to mistakes, take responsibility, correct them, and appologize, make things right. Jim says to call a lowly state senator instead of the Gov who is our highest elected represetative OF THE PEOPLE. The Gov is pretending to be powerless so as to rock no boats or give the dems an opportunity to say he bows to the NRA. and JimG says to call a lowly state senator as if state senators have more authority than the Chief. dont listen to JimG, continue to call the Govs office directly and demand Christie takes immediate action to right a wrong.

  11. Jim Granelli said at 8:45 am on September 18th, 2014:

    @ @@at the whodovoodo,

    First of all, that you don’t name yourself shows that you are the weak person, a coward that hides behind the anonymity of a computer screen.

    Second, what?

    You don’t understand Separation of Powers?

    Third, the Governor SHOULD be talking with the Prosecutor’s office. And maybe he did causing the the Prosecutor has called a time out. Do you know for a fact that the Governor’s office DID NOT come down on the Prosecutor’s office?

    But legally, the Governor can’t do anything as I understand the law until after the matter is adjudicated. If you have a different legal opinion that says THE GOVERNOR can legally drop the charges against Shaneen, please post it here along with the name of the lawyer or Judge that wrote it. I’ll believe that person over an anonymous hack with no facts to back up their argument. ONLY then will I be glad to retract my opinion on this point.

    Otherwise, you’re just a blowhard.

    BTW, I HAVE called the Governor’s office and written about this issue to them, here and elsewhere.

    As a matter of fact, I did so early on. Please, tell me what YOU have done.

    Tell me, are you for breaking a law? Imagine the cows the Democrats would have crying hypocrisy for Christie violating the Separation Of Powers while we attack Obama for doing the very same thing.

    Now, Mr. “Whoeveryouare,” IF you had bothered to read the article, a Republican proposed a solution and SWEENY blocked that solution.

    Sweeney is NOT a “lowly State Senator,” he is the SENATE PRESIDENT! My God, can you even read?

    You do know that and understand that he controls what goes to the Senate floor and whether they have a special session to pass a law to deal with this, right?

    THAT’S WHY I put the onus on Sweeny. NOW do you understand why I pointed the finger at him, or do we have to put you back into Civics 101?

    No, all you want to do is attack someone because it makes you look and feel better, rather than deal with the solution. Hey, I can’t stop you from being “Stuck On Stupid.”

    Tell me, what do you do when the demons come out from under the bed at night?

    Finally, it’s interesting that you want to beat up on me, rather than a the Senate President, a DEMOCRAT that is blocking a solution. Maybe it’s that you can’t handle the facts, but that’s all I have to say to you.

  12. @ Sire Joseph Centonzi said at 8:06 am on September 19th, 2014:

    Pray, pardon me? Are thee arsy varsy? Why are thou breeches in a tightwad?

    Was there something about my verbiage that you disagree with? If so, why not engage in a decent debate of meaningful words instead of insults?

    Such dribble you speak means naught to me. Now Sir, good by to thee.


    Silence Dogood, Redux.