Four More Criminal Cases for the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court announced this afternoon that it has granted certification in four new cases, all criminal matters.  Here is the summary.

In State v. Nelson, the question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office, is “Under the circumstances presented, did the police have a reasonable articulable suspicion to stop defendant’s car; and were defendant’s rights violated when officers conducted a canine sniff during the course of the stop?”  In an unpublished opinion, a two-judge Appellate Division panel affirmed the denial of defendant’s motion to suppress evidence.  The Supreme Court granted defendant’s petition for certification.

State v. L.H. presents the following question: “Was defendant’s statement to police obtained voluntarily where officers suggested that defendant would receive counseling and would not be jailed if he spoke with them; and, should one victim’s out-of-court identification have been suppressed for failure to comply with the recording requirements of Rule 3:11 and the principles established in State v. Delgado, 188 N.J. 48 (2006)?”  The Law Division denied defendant’s motion to suppress his statement to the police, as well as an out-of-court identification by one of his alleged victims.  In an unpublished opinion, a two-judge panel of the Appellate Division reversed as to defendant’s statement to the police, finding that the State had not shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the statement was voluntary.  The panel vacated the denial of suppression of the out-of-court identification and remanded it for further proceedings.

Another appeal that will present a Delgado issue involving out-of-court identification is State v. Green.  That case presents that question “Is an out-of-court identification obtained using the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) system subject to the requirements of Rule 3:11, which governs the record of an out-of-court identification procedure?”  The Law Division granted defendant’s motion to suppress the out-of-court identification.  The Appellate Division split 2-1, with the majority voting to vacate the ruling below and remand it for further proceedings because the police had failed to preserve the photo array used.  Judge Leone dissented, saying that he would have reversed the ruling of the Law Division.  Though the 2-1 decision entitled defendant to appeal as of right, the matter is shown as one in which certification was granted.

Finally, in State v. Johnson, the issue relates to pretrial intervention (“PTI”).  The question presented there is “Did the State err in denying defendant’s application for admission into the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), based, in part, on its determination that defendant was presumptively ineligible for PTI because he was charged with third-degree possession of heroin with intent to distribute in a school zone?”  The Law Division denied entry into PTI, and a two-judge panel of the Appellate Division affirmed in an unpublished opinion.