Monthly Archives: June 2006
In today’s decision, Sanchez-LIamas v. Oregon, the United States Supreme Court ruled that suppression of an incriminating statement from a foreign national defendant in custody is not required when the police fail to inform the defendant of his rights under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Today’s holding is entirely consistent with previous New Jersey law on this topic: See generally:
State v. Homdziuk, 369 N.J. Super. 279 (App. Div. 2004)
State v. King, 372 N.J. Super. 227 (App. Div. 2004)>br> State v. Jang, 359 N.J. Super. 85 (App. Div. 2003)
Download a copy of Sanchez-LLamas v. Oregon.
As expected, The United States Supreme Court today provided further explanation of the concept of “testimonial” statements in the context of the confrontation clause of the Constitution.
By way of background, in 2004, Justice Scalia wrote for the Court in Crawford v. Washington, 541 US 36 (2004) that the confrontation clause bars the admission of testimonial statements of a witness who does not appear at trial and who has not previously been subject to cross-examination.
In today’s opinion (also written by Justice Scalia), Davis v. Washington, the Court considered statements by victims of two domestic violence cases, one from Washington and one from Indiana. In the first fact pattern presented to the court, the victim made statements to a 911 operator during the course of a domestic violence assault. When she subsequently failed to appear at the trial of her tormentor, the 911 tape recording of her statement was used by the prosecution at trial.
In the second fact pattern, a domestic violence victim made statements under oath to police officers who came to her house to investigate a fresh domestic violence incident. When she later failed to appear at trial, her sworn statement was introduced as evidence by the prosecution.
In each case, the hearsay statements of the victims were admissible under state law exceptions to the hearsay rule. Moreover, in each case, the defense objected to the admission of the statements on confrontation clause grounds.
The Justices ruled that a statement is non-testimonial if, from an objective standpoint, it was given for the primary purpose of helping police deal with an ongoing emergency (as in the first case). By contrast, a statement is testimonial if, from an objective standpoint, it was not made as a result of an ongoing emergency and the primary purpose of the statement was to allow the police to establish or prove past events potentially relevant to a criminal prosecution.
Download a copy of Davis v. Washington.
In today’s United States Supreme Court decision in Samson v. California, the Justices ruled that a California state law permitting the search of parolees at any time, without any level of suspicion, is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
Download a copy of Samson v. California.
In today’s Appellate Division ruling in State v. Milledge, the Court held that a stationhouse fight with detectives did not amount to a de facto assertion of the right to remain silent by the defendant. Accordingly, the continued interrogation of the defendant following the fracas was proper and the defendant’s subsequent confession ruled admissible.
Download a copy of State v. Milledge.
In today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court in Hudson v. Michigan, the Justices ruled that a violation of the common-law “knock and announce” procedure utilized by police when serving a search warrant does not require suppression of the evidence subsequently seized under the authority of the warrant. In its plurality decision, Justice Scalia wrote for the Court that although the Fourth Amendment requires that police generally knock and announce their presence before entering a residence under the authority of a search warrant, a violation of this rule does not require the harsh sanction of suppression in order to deter future police violations of this rule.
Download a copy of Hudson v. Michigan.
Today’s Appellate Division decision, State v. Elders deals with the consensual search of an automobile on the Turnpike. Two troopers encounter two automobiles stopped on the roadway. One of the vehicles had broken down and was in the process of being repaired by the occupants. Based upon extensive on-scene questioning, the troopers developed a reasonable suspicion that evidence of a crime might be hidden in one or both of the vehicles. The troopers sought to obtain consent from the purported “owner” of the vehicles at the scene. When he refused to sign the standard consent to search form, the trooper explained that in the absence of consent, he would request that a drug-sniffing dog be brought to the scene to continue the investigation. Upon hearing this, the “owner” signed the consent to search form. The subsequent search uncovered distribution levels of CDS. All of the occupants were subsequently arrested.
At the motion to suppress, the defendants maintained that the threat to call in a drug dog vitiated the voluntariness of the purported consent. The Appellate Division disagreed and held that since use of a drug sniffing dog would have been legally appropriate, given the level of suspicion the troopers had, the promise to call for the use of a dog was not a threat but only a legally correct statement as to what would be the next step in the investigative process in the absence of consent to search.
Download a copy of State v. Elders.
This morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Carroll is a critically important case in the development of New Jersey search and seizure jurisprudence related to the exigent circumstances that support the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.
In State v. Cooke, 163 N.J. 657 (2000), the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that under the State Constitution, the automobile exception to the warrant requirement is grounded in a showing by the prosecution of both probable cause and exigent circumstances. Prior to the publication earlier this year of State v. Dunlap, 185 N.J. 543 (2006), all of the published case law following Cooke had reported that exigent circumstances existed to a sufficient degree to support the search under the automobile exception. However, the Dunlap, the Court found that the presence of at least 10 police officers at the arrest scene vitiated the exigency. This opinion has engendered a degree of confusion among police agencies and prosecutors as to how many police officers are needed at the scene to an arrest to remove the exigent circumstances.
In today’s decision in Carroll, the Appellate Division distinguished Dunlap in the following way. The police in Dunlap had time to prepare for the defendant’s arrival and arrest. In a sense, the police exercised a degree of control over how and where the arrest would take place. By contrast, the arrest in Carroll occurred following a high-speed pursuit, replete with physical resistance by the defendant, a blatant attempt by him to discard evidence and a car crash in a casino parking lot. Although numerous police and EMS personnel responded to the scene of the arrest, the spontaneous nature of the situation confronting the police created exigent circumstances of sufficient magnitude to support a warrantless search of the defendant’s vehicle under the automobile exception.
Download a copy of State v. Carroll.
Today’s Appellate Division opinion in State v. Berezansky represents another critical step in the development of post-Crawford (Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004)) confrontation clause jurisprudence in New Jersey.
The legal issues in Berezansky involve a challenge by the defendant to the admissibility State Police laboratory results of a blood test in a drunk driving case. The State argued, in conformity with existing case law, that such laboratory reports are normally admissible in a drunk driving case as either a public record or a business record.
The Appellate Division rejected this position and ruled that the admissibility of laboratory blood tests from the State Police in a drunk driving case should generally conform to the statutory procedures required by the Legislature for laboratory reports in drug cases under NJSA 2C:35-19. Under this statute and the case law that has interpreted it, (State v. Simbara, 175 N.J. 37 (2002) and State v. Miller, 170 N.J. 417 (2002)) a defendant is entitled to complete proof as to the reliability of the testing procedures used as part of discovery and maintains the right to confront the person who prepared the report in court simply by objecting to the report’s admissibility pre-trial.
On the basis of Crawford, Miller and Simbara, today’s decision calls into question the continuing validity of such well-established DWI blood cases as State v. Oliveri, 336 N.J. Super. 244 (App. Div. 2001) and certain aspects of the Supreme Court’s decision in the landmark case State v. Matulewicz, 101 N.J. 27 (1985).
In addition, in the absence a future modification of this opinion by the Supreme Court, this decision will fundamentally change the way DWI blood cases will be prosecuted, defended and tried in municipal court. At a minimum, this case will likely result in State Police forensic laboratory personnel being required frequently to testify in DWI blood cases around the state.
Download a copy of State v. Berezansky.