Muni-Mail – Judge’s Trial Error Voids DWI Conviction – State v. Gibson

[2/7/12 – 4:41 pm] This morning, the Appellate Division ruled that a fact-finder in a quasi-criminal matter cannot convict “solely on the basis of evidence elicited at a pre-trial [suppression] hearing”.  This is a deprivation of the defendant’s right to due process unless defense counsel consents to the court’s procedure.

In the Gibson case, the suppression hearing evidence met the probable cause standard – both for pulling over Mr. Gibson, and for arresting him for DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50).  The motion to suppress was denied.  But upon the shift to a higher standard of proof in the trial on the merits, the judge did not start the trial anew.  The court started the trial where the suppression hearing left off, and the State presented no further evidence while the defense counsel moved for dismissal.  By relying on the evidence from the suppression hearing without defense counsel consenting to the procedure, the court deprived the defendant of due process.

The link to State v. Gibson is:
http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a5163-10.pdf

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Category: Muni-Mail Archive