Winter 2019 NJ Municipal Court Law Review
Winter 2019 NJ Municipal Court Law Review Index 1. Supreme Court rules DWI Breath test results produced by Alcotest machines are inadmissible if not calibrated using a NIST-traceable thermometer 2. Strip search permitted for indictable cases State v Brown 3 OK for Rutgers University police officer
1. Supreme Court rules Breath test results produced by Alcotest machines are inadmissible if not calThe Special Master*s findings are supported by substantial credible evidence in the record, and the Court adopts them. Breath test results produced by Alcotest machines not calibrated using a NIST-traceable thermometer are inadmissible. This opinion calls into question any test result involving a machine the sergeant who handled, including devices used by local police in Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union counties between 2008 and 2016.
If someone plead guilty to a DWI in Central NJ prior to 2016 where State Trooper Marc Dennis tested the machine, the driver may be able to file a petition for Post Conviction Relief. 20,667 drivers had DWI test using Alcotest machines improperly calibrated by Tpr. Dennis.
The Court considered the admissibility of breath test results produced by Alcotest machines not calibrated using a thermometer that produces temperature measurements traceable to the standards set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Marc W. Dennis, a coordinator in the New Jersey State Police*s Alcohol Drug Testing Unit, was tasked with performing the semi-annual calibrations on Alcotest instruments used in Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union Counties. He is charged with neglecting to take required measurements and having falsely certified that he followed the calibration procedures. Dennis was indicted in 2016 for failing to use a NIST- traceable thermometer to measure the temperature of simulator solutions used to calibrate Alcotest devices. When Dennis was criminally charged, the Attorney General*s Office notified the Administrative Office of the Courts that evidential breath samples from 20,667 people were procured using Alcotest machines calibrated by Dennis.
HELD: The Special Master*s findings are supported by substantial credible evidence in the record, and the Court adopts them. Breath test results produced by Alcotest machines not calibrated using a NIST-traceable thermometer are inadmissible.
1. This case is justiciable despite defendant*s passing. The Court will entertain a case that has become moot when the issue is of significant public importance and is likely to recur. The reliability and admissibility of thousands of breath samples, often used as the sole evidence to support a conviction, is of significant public importance.
2. Scientific test results are admissible in a criminal trial only when the technique is shown to be generally accepted as reliable within the relevant scientific community. Chun, 194 N.J. at 91. Although the Court recently adopted the factors identified in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 593-95 (1993), and a methodology-based approach for determining scientific reliability in certain areas of civil law, the Court has not altered its adherence to the general acceptance test for reliability in criminal matters. The proponent of the technique has the burden to clearly establish general acceptance and may do so using
(1) expert testimony, (2) scientific and legal writings, and (3) judicial opinions. The party proffering the evidence need not show infallibility of the technique nor unanimity of its acceptance in the scientific
2. Strip search permitted for indictable cases State v Brown __ NJ Super. _ (App. Div. 2018)The panel affirms the trial court's order denying defendant's motion to suppress five bricks of heroin seized from defendant's groin area pursuant to a strip search following defendant's arrest for indictable drug offenses.
The panel addressed the strip search statute, N.J.S.A. 2A: 161A-1 to -10, which affords certain protections to persons who are arrested or detained for non-indictable offenses, and whether the Attorney General Guidelines for strip searches extend those protections to persons arrested or detained for crimes.
The panel concludes that neither the legislative history nor the plain terms of the statute authorized the Attorney General to promulgate Guidelines to extend the statute's protections to persons detained or arrested for crimes. The panel further concludes that the strip search was justified here by probable cause and reasonable exigent circumstances, thereby satisfying the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, and Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution. (17-06-1207,
3 OK for Rutgers University police officer to stop and arrest a defendant for DWI State v. Goines N.J. Super. Law Div. Docket NO. MA-37-2016
The state appealed the ruling of a municipal court judge that determined a Rutgers University Police Officer lacked jurisdiction to stop and arrest defendant for DUI. The officer allegedly observed defendant illegally cross a double-yellow line, after which she activated her lights and pulled over defendant in the city of New Brunswick. Defendant was transported to the police station for an Alcotest, which revealed a BAC of 0.14%. Before the municipal court, defendant moved to dismiss the DUI summons for lack of jurisdiction. Defendant cited a memorandum of understanding between Rutgers and New Brunswick that permitted Rutgers police officers to enforce motor vehicle laws on certain streets; because defendant's arrest did not occur on one of those streets, the municipal court judge granted defendant's motion. On appeal, the court reversed the ruling of the municipal court. The court noted that, in isolation, Title 18A appeared to preclude university police officers from enforcing traffic laws off-campus except at the request of municipal authorities. However, the court found that the Motor Vehicle Code also permitted "any law enforcement officer" to arrest someone for DUI. The court noted that this provision had been interpreted to permit municipal police officers to arrest drivers for DUI outside of those officers' territorial jurisdiction. The court interpreted the legislature's use of the term "any law enforcement officer" to mean that the legislature intended to expand the number of officials with authority to arrest drunk drivers. The court therefore held that it was consistent with the statute to give university police jurisdiction to enforce DUI laws. The court read this statute with Title 18A as preventing university police officers from being overtaxed, while not preventing those officers from stopping crimes occurring right before their eyes. Source https://www.law.com/njlawjournal/almID/1541469624NJMA372016/