At the arraignment/status conference, motion dates and a date for a future status conference are set. All motions are heard prior to the last status conference. The last status conference is the
pre-trial conference. The court conducts a conference when there are no motions pending, discovery is complete, all reasonable attempts to dispose of the case prior to trial have been made and it appears that further negotiations or an additional status conference will not result in either the disposition of a case or progress towards the disposition of a case. The pre-trial conference is conducted in open court with the defendant, defense counsel and prosecutor present. At the pre-trial conference, unless objected to by a party, the judge will ask the prosecutor to describe the case. The judge then addresses the defendant and advises the defendant of the State's final plea offer and the authorized sentence for the offenses charged. The defendant is also advised of a plea cutoff, which means that ordinarily a negotiated plea will not be accepted after the conference and after a trial date has been set. The judge also advises the defendant of his or her right to trial. If the defendant wishes to proceed to trial, a 18
trial memorandum is prepared and reviewed on the record and a trial date is set. No motions are normally heard after this event and a plea cutoff is in effect. A plea cutoff means that, after the last status conference, the State's plea offer is withdrawn and the defendant must either proceed to trial or enter a plea to the indictment without a recommendation from the State. Negotiated pleas shall not be accepted absent the approval of the Criminal Presiding Judge based on a material change of circumstance, or the need to avoid a protracted trial or manifest injustice. See R. 3:9-3(g).