State’s Appeal from An Order Suppressing Defendant’s Alleged Intoxication as a Sanction for The State Trooper’s Absence at Trial
State of New Jersey v. Jacob Hiller
Docket No. A-2647-21
Decided November 30, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey DWI Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided the State’s appeal from an order suppressing defendant’s alleged intoxication as a sanction for the State Trooper’s absence at trial.
In November 2019, a New Jersey State Trooper issued summonses to defendant for DWI and refusal. The State Trooper did not appear in municipal court for multiple scheduled trial dates with the last one being in September 2020. As a result, defense counsel moved for dismissal of the charges based on the Trooper’s alleged fourth failure to appear for trial. The prosecutor was not present when the motion was made. Defense counsel advised the court that the prosecutor had informed him that the State Trooper was not working that day and would not appear. After the judge indicated he could not dismiss the matter, he could only suppress the evidence. Defense counsel then moved to suppress the State’s evidence outside the presence of the prosecutor once again. The municipal court granted the request without making any findings of fact or conclusions of law, and ordered the suppression of the State’s evidence. The court then declared defendant not guilty of the DWI and refusal charges.
The court later granted the State’s motion for reconsideration of the suppression and dismissal order, finding that it should not have entertained defendant’s dismissal and suppression motions outside the prosecutor’s presence. The court then vacated the order, and relisted the matter for trial. Defendant then filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the municipal court’s order on reconsideration of the two orders. On defendant’s interlocutory appeal from the court’s order on reconsideration, the Law Division ordered the suppression of any evidence concerning defendant’s alleged intoxication as a sanction for the absence of the State Trooper from the scheduled trial, and remanded the matter for a trial in municipal court. The State then appealed the Law Division’s order imposing the suppression sanction.
On appeal, the State argued that the court abused its discretion because suppression of the evidence is an extreme remedy, which is tantamount to a dismissal of the DWI charge and may require dismissal of the refusal charge. Thus, the State believed that the suppression sanction was unwarranted based on the facts and circumstances. Defendant contended that the court properly exercised its discretion by suppressing the evidence in response to the State’s failure to produce the State Trooper on four consecutive trial dates, three of which the court designated as “date[s] certain.”
Ultimately, the Appellate Court determined that the Law Division’s decision suppressing the evidence constituted an abuse of discretion because the decision was made without a rational explanation, inexplicably departed from established policies, and rested on an impermissible basis. The court explained that the Law Division’s determination was not supported by a rational explanation since their decision did not contain findings of fact or conclusions of law. The Appellate Court also concluded that the Law Division abused its discretion by basing the suppression sanction on the judge’s “feeling” suppression was appropriate, an impermissible basis. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded the matter.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Municipal and Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to DUIs and suppressing evidence at trial. 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 defendant 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.