Municipal Court Law Review
State v. Sutherland 231 NJ 429 (2018)1. Police could not stop for only one broken taillight. State v. Sutherland 231 NJ 429 (2018).
The Appellate Division erred in concluding that the holding in State v Heien is applicable here. The motor vehicle statutes pertinent here are not ambiguous. The officer*s stop of defendant*s motor vehicle was not an objectively reasonable mistake of law that gave rise to constitutional reasonable suspicion; the stop was therefore unconstitutional.
Defendant*s traffic stop was premised on perceived violations of two statutes. The statutes read together require that a motor vehicle only have two working rear lamps, with at least one working lamp on each side. See N.J.S.A. 39:3-61(a); N.J.S.A. 39:3-66. N.J.S.A. 39:3-66 mandates that the lamps *required by this article* must be kept in good working order. The statutes require one working taillight on each side of a vehicle. Thus, if a vehicle has two taillights on each side of the vehicle*more than the law requires*and one of those multiple taillights on one side is not working, a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-61(a) and -66, as was assumed and charged here, has not occurred. The officer*s erroneous application of the functioning taillight requirement was not an objectively reasonable mistake of law. This case does not present a basis for considering the application of Heien. Simply put, this was not a good stop. The judgment of the Appellate Division, premised on an application of Heien to the stop in this matter, is reversed.
The State also asserted community caretaking as an alternative basis to support the stop. The Appellate Division did not reach the argument in light of the manner in which it resolved the case. Accordingly, a remand is appropriate to allow the Appellate Division to address the unresolved argument advanced by the State. (A-14-16; 077807)
State v A.M. 452 NJ Super. 587 (App. Div. 2018)2. Confession suppressed where Spanish translation not accurate. State v A.M. 452 NJ Super. 587 (App. Div. 2018).
Defendant pled guilty to second-degree sexual assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(c)(4), reserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress the inculpatory statement. This court reverses the trial court's order denying defendant's motion to suppress his inculpatory statement. The evidence presented by the State at the N.J.R.E. 104(c) hearing does not support the motion judge's findings that the State satisfied "the heavy burden" of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that defendant made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary decision to waive his constitutional rights under Miranda. The motion judge's decision upholding the methods used by the interrogating detectives improperly shifted this burden of proof to defendant.
Judge Fuentes wrote a separate concurrence addressing the use of police officers as interpreters when interrogating a suspect who is limited English proficient. A-2090-13T2
State v Washington 453 NJ Super. 164 (App. Div. 2018)3. Evidence here should not have been excluded where lab report not yet provided by lab to pros. State v Washington 453 NJ Super. 164 (App. Div. 2018).
The Appellate Division ruled that the State Police Lab's draft DNA report was not "within the possession, custody or control of the prosecutor" until the lab sent it to the county prosecutor, and in any event was not discoverable until the report was reviewed and approved by the lab. R. 3:13-3(b)(1)(C). Regardless of the speedy trial provisions, the court abused its discretion by excluding the DNA evidence rather than granting a continuance of trial under Rule 3:13-3(b)(1)(I) and -3(f), given the evidence's importance and the absence of surprise, prejudice, or a design to mislead.
Under the speedy trial rule and statute, a case may be "complex" if it has "complicated evidence," but time is excludable only if the complexity makes it unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for trial in the speedy trial period. R. 3:5-4(i)(7); N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(g). The provision addressing failures to produce discovery is a limit on excludable time. N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(2). The court properly excluded time sua sponte under N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(c), and retained jurisdiction to do so after the State sought and obtained leave to appeal. That provision excludes the time while an emergent relief request, or interlocutory appeal, is pending in this court. Time while the trial is stayed is excludable under N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22(b)(1)(l).
State v Belton 452 NJ Super. 428 (App. Div. 2018)4. Guilty plea could be withdrawn here where defendant claimed innocence at sentencing. State v Belton 452 NJ Super. 428 (App. Div. 2018).
In this PCR appeal, defendant collaterally challenged his conviction, after a guilty plea, to aggravated manslaughter. The panel concludes that defendant, in the course of his allocution, suggested a defense of others that was inconsistent with guilt; his waiver of that defense was not knowingly made; therefore, he did not present a sufficient factual basis of guilt. In reaching this conclusion, the panel applies the principles set forth in State v. Urbina, 221 N.J. 509 (2015), although that case involved a claim of self-defense, rather than the defense of others, suggested in the course of a guilty plea. In view of defendant's contemporaneous claim of innocence, the panel held that the failure to elicit a sufficient factual basis was of constitutional dimension and warrants PCR. A-0971-16T1
M.C. VS. G.T. 452 NJ Super. 509 (2018).5. Restraining order should not be issued if domestic violence not proved. M.C. VS. G.T. 452 NJ Super. 509 (2018).
Plaintiff failed to prove defendant committed an act of domestic violence but the judge * after acknowledging the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act did not permit issuance of a final restraining order * relied on P.J.G. v. P.S.S., 297 N.J. Super. 468 (App. Div. 1997), invoked her "inherent equitable powers," and entered restraints in plaintiff's favor.
The court reversed, holding that even if it represents good law, P.J.G. requires that some other vehicle * such as another pending action between the parties * must be available for the issuance of restraints based on the trial court's inherent equitable powers. There being no action between the parties except the domestic violence action in question, the trial court was not authorized to impose restraints or do anything but dismiss plaintiff's domestic violence action without granting affirmative relief. A-4781-15T4
State v. Mosley 232 NJ 169 (2018)6. Hearsay is generally admissible in a VOP hearing. State v. Mosley 232 NJ 169 (2018).
Hearsay is generally admissible in a VOP hearing. When assessing the State*s ability to rely on hearsay to satisfy its proof obligation without contravening a defendant*s due process rights, a court fundamentally should consider the State*s reasons for relying on hearsay forms of evidence and the reliability of the evidence for its proposed purpose. In this matter, the State failed to provide any justification for relying on hearsay, and the hearsay evidence was not sufficiently reliable for its asserted purpose of substantiating the new criminal charges against defendant. A-24-16;
State v Richardson 452 NJ Super. 124 (App. Div. 2018)7. Police have duty to preserve video and evidence. State v Richardson 452 NJ Super. 124 (App. Div. 2018).
The court reverses defendant's drug possession conviction and holds that when the State refuses a defense attorney's diligent pre-indictment request to preserve and produce recordings, which the State or its law enforcement agencies created and are directly relevant to adjudicating an existing charge, the defendant is entitled to an adverse inference charge.
In this drug case, despite the attorney's timely preservation request, the State allowed the automatic erasure of a booking room video that likely recorded the search of defendant, which allegedly uncovered the drugs he was charged with possessing. The court also holds the court erred by allowing the State to introduce evidence that defendant gave a false name during the earlier traffic stop. Unreported A-2023-15T2 (App. Div. 2017) source
State v. Houston unreported App Div.8. Odor of pot does not police to search the trunk without consent or warrant. State v. Houston unreported App Div.
During a motor vehicle stop, officers observed respondent was not wearing a seatbelt and also detected the smell of burnt marijuana once respondent lowered the window. The officers removed respondent from the car and placed him under arrest after a search of his person produced five prescription pills, along with a large sum of money. During a search of the vehicle, officers found additional pills and marijuana. On motion to suppress evidence, the trial court concluded the "vehicle stop was lawful" because officers "observed motor vehicle violations." Additionally, the seizure of the burnt marijuana cigarette in the ashtray was "valid pursuant to a search incident to arrest," and because it was in "plain view."
However, the trial judge held the officers had no right to search the backpack or its contents, "or disassemble the car parts which covered the voids and the air vents of the car" without a warrant as respondent was handcuffed and removed from the car with no ability to destroy potential evidence.
On appeal, the court was tasked with determining whether the search exceeded the permissible scope pursuant to the automobile exception. Despite the unsettled landscape in prior precedents, the court reversed in part finding that the officers had authority to conduct a search of the passenger compartment of the vehicle based upon probable cause. Having found the partially smoked marijuana cigarette, as well as the baby bottles filled with suspected controlled substances in the passenger compartment, the officers had probable cause to search the contents of the backpack.
However, the court affirmed suppression of the contraband found in the wheel panels as the automobile exception did not authorize such a search that "transcended all bounds of reasonableness." Docket A-0023-17T3 source https://www.law.com/njlawjournal/almID/1513134731NJA002317T/
State v. Siervo App. Div. unreported9. PCR rejected here after 7 years. State v. Siervo App. Div. unreported.
More than seven years after pleading guilty in municipal court to two motor vehicle violations - driving while intoxicated and refusing to submit to a breath test - appellant sought to withdraw his pleas. Before accepting appellant's plea, the municipal court judge questioned appellant to assure he was entering the plea knowingly and voluntarily. Both the municipal court and the Law Division denied his application; the Law Division judge found the application was time-barred by Rule 3:22-12, which required, with certain exceptions, that a defendant file a first petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) not more than five years after a judgment of conviction was entered.
On appeal, appellant argued that the factual basis for his guilty plea did not set forth the essential elements of the offense and his motion was not governed by the time limitations of PCR. The court affirmed concluding appellant's application to withdraw his guilty plea was time-barred and his application did not fall within an exception to the statute of limitations. The court further remarked that the rules vest discretion in the respective courts to permit a defendant to make a post-sentence motion to withdraw a plea if doing so will correct a manifest injustice. Considering the problems caused by the passage of significant time following appellant's guilty pleas, appellant's non-assertion of innocence or misunderstanding of the nature of the charges, and the trial court's determination of appellant's motivation, appellant's motion to withdraw his pleas did not constitute manifest injustice. Accordingly, the court affirmed. A-0989-16T2
State v. Mills unreported App. Div.10. Case addresses warrantless sweep of vehicle. State v. Mills unreported App. Div.
Following the trial court*s denial of his motion to suppress incriminating evidence that police had seized in a warrantless car search. On appeal, appellant contended that the warrantless search of the car in which he had been riding as a passenger was unconstitutional. He further submitted that the trial court erred in rejecting his request to draw an adverse inference against respondent for failure to preserve two separate video recordings of the vehicle stop. The court remanded the suppression issues to the trial court for reconsideration in light of the Supreme Court*s recent opinion in State v. Robinson, 228 N.J. 529 (2017) which illuminated the requirements for a permissible warrantless *protective sweep* of a vehicle.
The court noted the record, including a DVD of the video recording, presented to the motion judge were unable to resolve fact-laden matters conclusively as to whether the officers had the legality to conduct a warrantless protective sweep of the vehicle. As such, the appropriate course of action was to remand the matter to reconsider its original suppression ruling. However, the court affirmed denial of an adverse inference as the failure to preserve the recording was not intentionally done to prejudice appellant*s rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and remanded in part. 14-2-4387 Source