Articles Posted in Police Reports, Discovery, Dismissal

In State v Dantonio, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the evidence of radar speed meter readings should be received into evidence upon a showing that the radar was properly set up and tested by the police officer. Similarly, the Appellate Division held in State v Wojtkowiak that the K-55 radar device is completely reliable as a speed measuring device. Likewise, laser radar devices and Vascar have also been accepted by the courts as being scientifically reliable.

HOWEVER, the scientific reliability of the radar device is only one part of the proofs the state must offer during trial for the radar speed reading to be admitted into evidence. In addition to proving the reliability of the device, the state must prove that the device wasproperly calibrated and operated by a trained and experienced police operator.

For example, in connection with the K-55 radar instrument, the state should adduce evidence as to the specific training and extent of experience of the police officer operating the radar, the calibration of the machine prior to stopping the defendant through the use of tuning forks, which should also be independently calibrated, and the calibration of the speedometer in the patrol car if the K-55 is operated in moving mode.

One of the most important aspects of a municipal court criminal or traffic matter is the discovery process. Rule 7:7-7provides the defendant with the absolute right to receive discovery consistent with the rule. Remember, the pertinent discovery must be requested in the proper manner proscribed by the rules.

In most cases, including DWI and drug charges, the state will rely upon police reports, lab certificates of analysis, chain of custody documents, alcotest readings, etc. to prove the case. A such, a defendant is entitled to information that the state plans to rely upon. Additionally, a defendant is entitled to exculpatory evidence. The rules of court and case law enumerate specific items that should be provided to a defendant in a prosecution. In addition, the defendant can always ask for and is entitled to relevant discovery.

The question is what happens when that discovery is requested but not provided. In State v Holup, the Superior Court of New Jersey examined this issue and proscribed the proper procedure for counsel to follow when such a situation arises.