The first post-indictment event is a pre-arraignment conference, which is conducted by the Criminal Division of the Superior Court. This conference occurs within 21 days after indictment. At this conference, defense representation is confirmed, discovery1 is available, and the uniform defendant intake form is completed. If the defendant has not previously applied for PTI, and asks to do so, an application is taken. The court can also screen for eligible Drug Court candidates. The purpose of this conference is to insure routine matters, which need not take up valuable judicial resources, are resolved prior to the arraignment/status conference. This allows the first court event, the arraignment/status conference, to be used as a tool to dispose of cases or to set firm dates for motions, future conferences and trials. The arraignment/status conference is scheduled to occur a few weeks after the pre-arraignment conference, by which time defense counsel should have reviewed discovery and discussed a negotiated plea with the state. Giving the parties time to review discovery prior to the arraignment/status conference provides a better opportunity to discuss a realistic plea bargain,2 diversion or dismissal, or, if the case is going to proceed to trial, to discuss the specific needs of the case, e.g., motions, and to set realistic dates to meet these specific case needs.
No pre-arraignment conference is required where the defendant has obtained counsel and the Criminal Division Manager's Office has established to its satisfaction that (1) an appearance
has been filed under R. 3:8-1; (2) discovery has been obtained, and (3) the defendant and counsel have obtained a date, place and time for the arraignment/status conference. See R. 3:9-1(a).