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Sunday, July 15, 2018

State in the Interest of A.R., a minor (078672) (Hudson County and Statewide) (A-67-16;

The Court reverses Alex’s delinquency adjudication on state-law grounds, concluding that the video-recorded statement did not possess a sufficient probability of trustworthiness to justify its introduction at trial under N.J.R.E. 803(c)(27). Striking the juvenile’s recorded statement from the record does not leave sufficient evidence in the record to support, on any rational basis, the adjudication of delinquency against Alex. Accordingly, the sexual assault charge must be dismissed. The Court concludes that the incompetency proviso of the present version of N.J.R.E. 803(c)(27) is flawed and remands that rule for review to the Supreme Court Committee on the Rules of Evidence.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. JAMES T. DOUGHERTY (16-04-0407, BURLINGTON COUNTY AND STATEWIDE) (A-2045-16T4)

The court finds that the plain language of N.J.S.A. 2C:40-26(b), the fourth-degree offense of driving while suspended, includes both driving while under the influence (DWI), N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, and refusal to submit to breath testing (refusal), N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.4a. They are predicate offenses even where the prior conviction history consists of one conviction under the separate sections of the Motor Vehicle Code. In other words, one DWI and one refusal suffice for the criminal offense of driving while suspended.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

State v. Robert L. Evans (079144) (Cumberland County and Statewide) (A-85/86-16; 079144)

The panel erred in its application of the “plain feel” doctrine. Officer Laboy had witnessed “hundreds” of instances where defendants concealed contraband in the front of their pants and therefore immediately recognized the “rocklike” substance he felt to be similar to crack cocaine. Between the officer’s experience-derived identification of the substance and the presence of $2000 in cash, the “plain feel” exception -- which the Court adopts -- applied.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Collins v. Virginia

No. 16-1027. Argued: January 9, 2018    Decided: May 29, 2018

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

During the investigation of two traffic incidents involving an orange and black motorcycle with an extended frame, Officer David Rhodes learned that the motorcycle likely was stolen and in the possession of petitioner Ryan Collins. Officer Rhodes discovered photographs on Collins' Facebook profile of an orange and black motorcycle parked in the driveway of a house, drove to the house, and parked on the street. From there, he could see what appeared to be the motorcycle under a white tarp parked in the same location as the motorcycle in the photograph.
Without a search warrant, Office Rhodes walked to the top of the driveway, removed the tarp, confirmed that the motorcycle was stolen by running the license plate and vehicle identification numbers, took a photograph of the uncovered motorcycle, replaced the tarp, and returned to his car to wait for Collins.
When Collins returned, Officer Rhodes arrested him. The trial court denied Collins' motion to suppress the evidence on the ground that Officer Rhodes violated the Fourth Amendment when he trespassed on the house's curtilage to conduct a search, and Collins was convicted of receiving stolen property. The Virginia Court of Appeals affirmed. The State Supreme Court also affirmed, holding that the warrantless search was justified under the Fourth Amendment's automobile exception.
Held: The automobile exception does not permit the warrantless entry of a home or its curtilage in order to search a vehicle therein.
(a) This case arises at the intersection of two components of the Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence: the automobile exception to the warrant requirement and the protection extended to the curtilage of a home. In announcing each of the automobile exception's justifications--i.e., the "ready mobility of the automobile" and "the pervasive regulation of vehicles capable of traveling on the public highways," California v. Carney, 471 U. S. 386, 390, 392--the Court emphasized that the rationales applied only to automobiles and not to houses, and therefore supported their different treatment as a constitutional matter. When these justifications are present, officers may search an automobile without a warrant so long as they have probable cause. Curtilage--"the area 'immediately surrounding and associated with the home' "--is considered " 'part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes.' " Florida v. Jardines, 569 U. S. 1, 6. Thus, when an officer physically intrudes on the curtilage to gather evidence, a Fourth Amendment search has occurred and is presumptively unreasonable absent a warrant.
(b) As an initial matter, the part of the driveway where Collins' motorcycle was parked and subsequently searched is curtilage. When Officer Rhodes searched the motorcycle, it was parked inside a partially enclosed top portion of the driveway that abuts the house. Just like the front porch, side garden, or area "outside the front window," that enclosure constitutes "an area adjacent to the home and 'to which the activity of home life extends.' " Jardines569 U. S., at 6, 7.
Because the scope of the automobile exception extends no further than the automobile itself, it did not justify Officer Rhodes' invasion of the curtilage. Nothing in this Court's case law suggests that the automobile exception gives an officer the right to enter a home or its curtilage to access a vehicle without a warrant. Such an expansion would both undervalue the core Fourth Amendment protection afforded to the home and its curtilage and " 'untether' " the exception " 'from the justifications underlying' " it. Riley v. California, 573 U. S. ___, ___. This Court has similarly declined to expand the scope of other exceptions to the warrant requirement. Thus, just as an officer must have a lawful right of access to any contraband he discovers in plain view in order to seize it without a warrant--see Horton v. California, 496 U. S. 128, 136-137--and just as an officer must have a lawful right of access in order to arrest a person in his home--see Payton v. New York, 445 U. S. 573, 587-590--so, too, an officer must have a lawful right of access to a vehicle in order to search it pursuant to the automobile exception. To allow otherwise would unmoor the exception from its justifications, render hollow the core Fourth Amendment protection the Constitution extends to the house and its curtilage, and transform what was meant to be an exception into a tool with far broader application.
(c) Contrary to Virginia's claim, the automobile exception is not a categorical one that permits the warrantless search of a vehicle anytime, anywhere, including in a home or curtilage. Scher v. United States,305 U. S. 251Pennsylvania v. Labron, 518 U. S. 938, distinguished. Also unpersuasive is Virginia's proposed bright line rule for an automobile exception that would not permit warrantless entry only of the house itself or another fixed structure, e.g., a garage, inside the curtilage. This Court has long been clear that curtilage is afforded constitutional protection, and creating a carveout for certain types of curtilage seems more likely to create confusion than does uniform application of the Court's doctrine. Virginia's rule also rests on a mistaken premise, for the ability to observe inside curtilage from a lawful vantage point is not the same as the right to enter curtilage without a warrant to search for information not otherwise accessible.
Finally, Virginia's rule automatically would grant constitutional rights to those persons with the financial means to afford residences with garages but deprive those persons without such resources of any individualized consideration as to whether the areas in which they store their vehicles qualify as curtilage.
292 Va. 486, 790 S. E. 2d 611, reversed and remanded.

     SOTOMAYOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, THOMAS, GINSBURG, BREYER, KAGAN, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

State v. Gary Twiggs (077686) (Cape May County and Statewide) (A-51-16; 077686)

The DNA-tolling exception applies only when the State obtains DNA evidence that directly matches the defendant to physical evidence of a crime. In Jones, the State presented sufficient evidence of a continuing course of conduct to survive the motion to dismiss.

State v. James E. Jones and Likisha Jones (077964) (Monmouth County and Statewide) (A-63/64/65-16; 077964)

The DNA-tolling exception applies only when the State obtains DNA evidence that directly matches the defendant to physical evidence of a crime. In Jones, the State presented sufficient evidence of a continuing course of conduct to survive the motion to dismiss.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

State in the Interest of J.A., a Juvenile (077383) (Burlington County and Statewide) (A-38-16

Neither exigency nor the hot pursuit doctrine justified the officers’ warrantless entry here. However, defendant’s brother’s actions did not constitute state action and were sufficiently attenuated from the unlawful police conduct to preclude application of the exclusionary rule to the evidence.

State v. Melvin Hester; State v. Mark Warner; State v. Anthony McKinney; State v. Linwood Roundtree (079228) (Essex County and Statewide) (A-91-16

The Federal and State Ex Post Facto Clauses bar the retroactive application of the 2014 Amendment to defendants’ CSL violations. The 2014 Amendment retroactively increased the punishment for defendants’ earlier committed sex offenses by enhancing the penalties for violations of the terms of their supervised release. The Amendment, therefore, is an ex post facto law that violates the Federal and State Constitutions as applied to defendants. The Court affirms the judgment of the Appellate Division dismissing defendants’ indictments.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. NOEL E. FERGUSON, ET AL. STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. SHAMEIK BYRD (16-10-0171

These appeals address the issue of territorial jurisdiction in the context of the strict liability for drug-induced death statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9(a), which provides that "[a]ny person who manufactures, distributes or dispenses . . . [a] controlled dangerous substance (CDS) classified in Schedules I or II . . . is strictly liable for a death which results from the injection, inhalation[,] or ingestion of that substance, and is guilty of a crime of the first degree. " New York has no comparable statute. In A-2893-17, the trial court dismissed the strict liability charge against defendants Noel E. Ferguson and Anthony M. Potts, New York residents who allegedly purchased heroin from defendant Shameik Byrd in Paterson and later distributed some of the heroin to the victim in New York, where he died of a heroin overdose. In A-2894-17, the trial court denied Byrd's motion to dismiss the same count of the indictment. The court found that, because Byrd allegedly distributed heroin in New Jersey that ultimately resulted in the user's death, Byrd's conduct fell within the purview of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9(a). N.J.S.A. 2C:1-3(a)(1) confers territorial jurisdiction in New Jersey when "[e]ither the conduct which is an element of the offense or the result which is such an element occurs within this State." Here, the proofs before the grand jury established that, as to Ferguson and Potts, the distribution and ingestion of heroin and the victim's death all occurred in New York. Accordingly, the State is without territorial jurisdiction to prosecute Ferguson and Potts for strict liability drug-induced death under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9. The panel concludes there is territorial jurisdiction to prosecute Byrd in New Jersey because his alleged distribution that ultimately resulted in the victim's death occurred in New Jersey, thus satisfying the "conduct" prong of N.J.S.A. 2C:1-3(a)(1). Consequently, the panel affirms the trial court orders.

State v. Melvin Hester; State v. Mark Warner; State v. Anthony McKinney; State v. Linwood Roundtree (079228) (Essex County and Statewide) (A-91-16; 07886

The Federal and State Ex Post Facto Clauses bar the retroactive application of the 2014 Amendment to defendants’ CSL violations. The 2014 Amendment retroactively increased the punishment for defendants’ earlier committed sex offenses by enhancing the penalties for violations of the terms of their supervised release. The Amendment, therefore, is an ex post facto law that violates the Federal and State Constitutions as applied to defendants. The Court affirms the judgment of the Appellate Division dismissing defendants’ indictments.