After 421 days in the Bergen County Jail’s “work release
” Kevin Macfie was granted a stay today from the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Macfie, a Bergen County father, has been incarcerated since he was arrested for child support arrears in January 2013. Macfie spent another 344 days incarcerated between December 2011 and November 2012. Macfie has only been a free man for 55 days in the past 18 months and during part of that time he was the subject of an arrest warrant which is automatically issued when two support payments are missed.
Macfie was being held in the Bergen County Jail for over a year with the court demanding he pay $7,500 to be released. Recently his “condition of release” was reduced to $1,000 which Macfie does not have.
“It might as well be $10,000” Macfie told the Bergen Dispatch. If he could find employment Macfie would need to save the $1,000 plus pay his weekly support amount of $284 plus the work release fees before being released.
In an Order issued today by the New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Barry T. Albin found:
New Jersey Supreme Court
Justice Barry T. Albin
“There is no indication in the Bergen County Family Part’s March 6, 2014 order incarcerating applicant that it found that applicant had the ability to pay the required support, but willfully refused to do so. Therefore, applicant’s incarceration is temporarily stayed pending further review and order of the court.”
On March 6, 2014 Macfie appeared before Judge Gary Wilcox in a courtroom in the Bergen County Jail for a two week review
. Every two weeks parents jailed for non-payment of support are brought before a judge for review.
Unemployed, penniless and having been incarcerated since January 2013 a Bergen County judge every two weeks ruled that Kevin Macfie was willfully refusing to pay his court ordered child support of $284 per week and ordered him back to jail demanding a payment of as much as $7,500 to be released.
Macfie, who has no knowledge about the law, took his case to the New Jersey Appellate Division on March 11 with the help of other Bergen County parents he had met while incarcerated.
Appointed to the Superior Court in 2006 by Gov. Jon Corzine, Judge St. John served in the criminal division in the Essex Vicinage until 2009, when he was transferred to the civil division. He returned to the criminal division where he remained until his elevation to the Appellate Division in 2011
On March 13 Macfie’s application with the Appellate Division was denied by Essex County Judge Jerome St. John. St. John denied Macfie’s application stating that Macfie had failed to provide a statement of reason from the trial judge, failed to provide transcripts and Macfie had not made a showing of his ultimate success on the merits … NJ Supreme Court Justice Albin disagreed.
Macfie who has struggled to complete the necessary documents for his appeal called the Bergen Dispatch after he received a call from a NJ Supreme Court clerk with the decision. “Denied” Macfie said, “he told me I had to stay incarcerated”.
After receiving a written copy of the order I called Kevin back to tell him he misunderstood and had won a “stay” of his incarceration. The clerk at the Supreme Court had already realized Macfie’s confusion and called him back to explain to Macfie he was being released from jail.
Macfie was overwhelmed and speechless when he returned by bicycle to the Bergen County Jail’s work release on Friday evening. Macfie who is, for the moment, still in the Bergen County Jail is expected to be released around 8:00pm.
Macfie who in the past year of incarceration has lost all of his possession will most likely join several of the work release refugees at the Bergen County homeless shelter right next to the Bergen County jail.
Pictured in the photo from left to right are Kevin Macfie, Jorge Reynaldo (released from jail and is living at the shelter), Armando Chacon (who has an appeal pending and has been jailed for support since December) and Mark Miller (who has been jailed for support since July 2013).
Update: Kevin was released from the Bergen County Jail shortly before 8:00pm, he has a place to stay tonight and is looking forward to working his first weekend out of jail in over a year.