State’s Evidential Burden of Proof in New Jersey DWI Appeal
In this DWI Appeal the court is asked again to determine whether the state has met its evidential burden of proof and whether the trial court had erred when it made its finds of facts and conclusions of law on the record. At issue is the testimony of numerous witnesses regarding who was driving a car involved in an accident with several parked cars. The police officers did not witness the accident nor any driving of the defendant. When they actually arrived there was absolutely no direct observation of the defendant driving and there was no clear evidence given the numerous inconsistent witness statements as to whether the defendant or his wife was operating the vehicle that struck several parked cars.
The trial court is in the best position to weigh the credibility of the witnesses. “When the results of the [trial] contest must turn on the truthfulness of the witnesses, the superior advantage of the trial judge is seeing and hearing and appraising the disputants must ordinarily be regarded as the fulcrum on which the issue should be resolved. “ Abeles v. Adams Eng’g Co. ; 35 NJ 411 (1961). In this case the appeals court determined, giving all deference to the trial court found the court, “carefully considered all of the testimony presented and explained why he concluded, like the municipal court judge before him why the officer’s testimony was the most credible.
IN OTHER WORDS, THE TRIAL JUDGE HAS THE ULTIMATE POWER WHEN HE MAKES THE ULTIMATE FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW WHILE ADDRESSING CREDIBILITY. THE ENTIRE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL DWI BENCH TRIAL IS ATTACKING THE CREDIBILITY OF THE STATE’S WITNESSES UPON WHICH THE STATE HAS BUILT ITS CASE! SHOW HOW THE POLICE STATEMENT AND TESTIMONY ARE INCONSISTENT WITH THE FACTS OF YOUR CASE!