State v. Hamaway Appellate Division April 16, 2018 Standard of Review of Criminal Court Motion to Suppress
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In this case there are numerous issues at play. I have previously provided a review of the issuers pertaining to the substantive search warrant and the drugs found as a result. Now I will be discussing the standard of review performed by the appellate division of the trial court’s judge’s Motion to Suppress ruling. This is a simple issue and one that you should understand when you are in front of the trial court judge prior to him rendering his ultimate decision. You may also want to consider what arguments you intend to make once you have this standard of review in mind! The court stated:
We are bound to uphold the factual findings made by the Criminal Part judge in support of his ruling denying defendant’s motion to suppress, provided they are “supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record.” State v. Gamble, 218 N.J. 412, 424 (2014). Thus, we can disturb or reject the judge’s findings of fact “only if they are so clearly mistaken that the interests of justice demand intervention and correction.” State v. Elders, 192 N.J. 224, 244 (2007) (quoting State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146, 162 (1964)). This deferential standard of review is predicated on the notion that factual findings are substantially influenced by the motion judge’s opportunity to “‘hear and see the witnesses and to have the ‘feel’ of the case, which a reviewing court cannot enjoy.'” State v. Robinson, 200 N.J. 1, 15 (2009) (quoting Elders, 192 N.J. at 244). A search executed pursuant to a warrant issued by a court carries a presumption of validity, State v. Valencia, 93 N.J. 126, 133 (1983); we must also accord substantial deference to the trial judge’s decision to issue such a warrant. State v. Sullivan, 169 N.J. 204, 211 (2001). In determining whether there is probable cause to issue a search warrant, a judge “must consider the 29 A-0622-15T2 totality of the circumstances, without focusing exclusively on any one factor[.]” Id. at 216. Ordinarily, a warrant application is legally sufficient provided the factual assertions contained therein would lead a prudent person to believe a crime has been committed and evidence of criminality will be found at the specified location. Id. at 217. We review de novo the motion judge’s legal conclusions. State v. Gandhi, 201 N.J. 161, 176 (2010).