Monthly Archives: February 2010
[02/24/10 – 1:05 pm] This morning, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a break of at least 14 days provides a sufficient time period for the police to wait before attempting to re-question a suspect who has previously asserted his right to remain silent under Miranda. The 14-day waiting period presupposes that the suspect will be at liberty, or at least not in police custody, during that period. The 14-day period even applies to a state prisoner who is in general population during that time. The Court’s decision today in Maryland v. Shatzer constitutes the first time the Justices have placed a firm, minimum time period on this type of police activity.
Download a copy of Maryland v. Shatzer
[02/23/10 – 1:32 pm] In this morning’s United States Supreme Court ruling in Florida v. Powell, the Justices ruled that proving defendants with Miranda warnings does not require the use of any mandatory language or words. In this case, the respondent contended that he was deprived of his proper Miranda rights when the police did not inform him that he had the right to have an attorney present during questioning. The Florida Supreme Court agreed and suppressed his incriminating, post-Miranda statements. However, the Supreme Court reversed this holding and ruled that as “an absolute prerequisite to interrogation,” an individual held for questioning “must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation.” While the warnings prescribed by Miranda are invariable, the Court has not dictated the words in which the essential information must be conveyed.
In determining whether police warnings are satisfactory, reviewing courts are not required to “examine [them] as if construing a will or defining the terms of an easement. The inquiry is simply whether the warnings reasonably ‘conve[y] to [a suspect] his rights as required by Miranda.
Download a copy of Florida v. Powell
[2010-02-18 11:47AM] In this morning’s Supreme Court decision in Crespo v. Crespo, the Justices rejected multiple challenges to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Among the holdings, the Court stated that the proper standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, there is no right to a trial by jury in instances where a final restraining order is sought and that the Act does not violate the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
Download a copy of Crespo v. Crespo.
[02-14-10 – 11:03 am] The February 10th publication of the Appellate Division decision in Smith v. Hudson County will likely have an enormous impact on county and local governments around the State, so much so that the Court ordered that its ruling be viewed prospectively, commencing on July 1 st of this year. In Smith, the Court ruled that that unless and until the Legislature amends The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to specify otherwise, or some other statute or regulation applies, the Counties and local governmental agencies must charge plaintiffs and other similar requestors of government records no more than the reasonably approximated “actual costs” of copying such records.
The facts in Smith involve challenges by several plaintiffs against the practice of three counties in charging 25 cents per copy as opposed to the actual cost of copying which proved to be substantially less. The Appellate Division decision attempts to construe the contradictory elements of OPRA as it relates to copying fees for public records (NJSA 47:1A-5). The Court found that the fee schedule in the statute is meant to apply to state and federal government agencies. Counties, municipalities and other local agencies may only assess their actual copying costs when fulfilling OPRA requests.
The Appellate Division also ruled that following the July 1st effective date, the defendant Counties and other government agencies may not charge requestors more than the “actual costs” of photocopying government records.
Click to download a copy of Smith v. Hudson County.
[02/08/10 – 11:03] – This morning’s Appellate Division holding in State v. Lewis is important since it marks the first time since the Supreme Court decided State v. Pena-Flores, 198 N.J. 6 (2009) that a court of appellate authority has construed the expanded exigent circumstances requirement necessary to support a seizure made under the “Automobile Exception” to the warrant requirement. In Lewis, the police conducted a search of a vehicle and seized a bag containing illegal drugs. At the motion to suppress, the judge suppressed the evidence, ruling that although the police had probable cause to search, they lacked the necessary exigent circumstances required for the automobile exception under New Jersey law. However, in today’s holding, the Appellate Division reserved, reasoning that the circumstances the police confronted at the time of the search were sufficient to establish exigency under the criteria established in Pena-Flores.
Download a copy of State v. Lewis
[02/03/10 – 10:24 am] This morning, in a case captioned State v. Best, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that school administrators may search student vehicles parked on school property based upon a level of suspicion that is less than probable cause. In order to conduct such a search, school officials need only have a reasonable suspicion that the student’s vehicle contains contraband.
Download a copy of State v. Best.