Interlocutory Review Was Improvidently Granted and Accordingly Dismissed the Appeal
State of New Jersey v. Anthony King, et al.
Docket No. A-2970-21
Decided March 21, 2023
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendants’ motion appealing the court’s interlocutory orders which granted the State’s applications to quash defendants’ subpoenas duces tecum issued to the Paterson Police Department seeking body-worn camera and street surveillance footage related to their arrests.
The defendants in this matter had police produce this information following their arrests and detention. Even though at the time defendants issued the subpoenas, they had not been indicted and the State had not extended any plea offers.
The State contended that this case involved a narrow procedural issue related to defendants’ improper service of “civil subpoenas” in lieu of formal discovery requests. The State did concede that it did routinely turn over similar discovery pre-indictment. However, it argued the proper procedure was for defendants to serve discovery requests consistent with the NJ Court Rules. Under R. 3:13-3(a)(1) to (2), the State argued it was not obligated to provide the requested information because it did not involve exculpatory evidence, the charges against defendants were pre-indictment, and no plea offers had been extended to any of the defendants.
Defendants argued that the court should order the pre-indictment discovery as the State would not be prejudiced by its production, the information could facilitate prompt resolution of these and similar cases, and providing the subpoenaed information would address possible preservation issues and permit the discovery of exculpatory evidence. Defendants further contended that even if service of the subpoenas did not comply with the NJ Court Rules, the court had the inherent power to order discovery in the interests of justice to ensure defendants’ constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.
The trial court ultimately granted the State’s motions, reasoning that since the serving of the subpoenas, all defendants had been indicted and the State had provided the requested video and body cam footage, but explained the matter remained justiciable as it was capable of repetition while evading review. The court articulated that pursuant to R. 3:13-3, “at the pre-indictment stage, there is no general obligation on the part of the State to turn over discoverable material outside of what they deem is necessary or what is determined to be exculpatory to the defense.” The court further determined because no plea offer had been made, R. 3:13-3(a)(1) was inapplicable and it also found the State had provided all necessary discovery related to its previous detention motions under R. 3:4-2(c)(1) to (2). Defendants subsequently appealed.
After hearing oral argument, the Appellate Court of New Jersey ruled that interlocutory review was improvidently granted and accordingly dismissed the appeal, as a justiciable dispute no longer exists requiring the court’s review. The court noted that all of the requested discovery has been produced by the State as all three defendants were indicted and received the body cam footage and video evidence in accordance with the court rules, and defendants made no showing before the trial court or the appellate court that it would have been appropriate for the court to invoke its inherent equitable powers and order the discovery prior to any indictment or plea offer. As such, the appellate court dismissed defendants’ appeal.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to motions appealing a trial court’s interlocutory orders. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the defendants in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.
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