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State v. McGovern

Decided: September 16, 1947.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIAM J. MCGOVERN, DEFENDANT



On certiorari and motion to quash.

For the State of New Jersey, Horace K. Roberson, Prosecutor of the Pleas of the County of Hudson, and William P. Gannon, Assistant Prosecutor.

For the defendant, Maurice C. Brigadier.

Before Case, Chief Justice, and Justice Burling.

Case

The opinion of the court was delivered by

CASE, CHIEF JUSTICE. The defendant moves to quash two indictments upon the grounds (1) that they are insufficient in that they fail to charge the commission of a crime and fail to inform the defendant of the nature and cause of the accusation, (2) that they are so vague and uncertain that an acquittal thereon would not assure subsequent protection against double jeopardy, and (3) that they fail to charge the establishment of any fingerprint system of identification by the Superintendent of the State Police and to charge that any forms had been prescribed.

The defendant was sheriff of the County of Hudson.

The essential statutory provision is R.S. 53:1-15 which provides:

"The sheriffs * * * shall immediately upon the arrest of any person for an indictable offense, or of any person believed to be wanted for an indictable offense, or believed to be an habitual criminal, take the fingerprints of such person according to the fingerprint system of identification established by the superintendent of state police and on the forms prescribed, and forward without delay two copies or more of the same, together with photographs and such other descriptions as may be required and with a history of the offense committed, to the state bureau of identification."

The indictments, in so far as the questions at issue go, are of like content, and the consideration of one will answer for both.

The indictment charges generally that McGovern as sheriff was charged with the duty to take fingerprints immediately of such persons as are arrested for an indictable offense according to the fingerprint system of identification established by the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police and on the forms prescribed and to forward the same without delay, two copies or more of the same, together with photographs and such other descriptions as may be required and with a history of the offense committed to the New Jersey State Bureau of Identification. The indictment continues with the allegation that the ground inquest of the County of Hudson, on October 24th, 1944, returned a true bill of indictment

against Robert A. O'Brien, William P. Black and M. James McLaughlin for conspiracy to cheat and defraud the City of Jersey City of its moneys derived from the taxation of real and personal properties and that the said defendants accordingly appeared before the bar of the court, were arrested and arraigned for pleading to the knowledge of the said McGovern, but that nevertheless the said McGovern, disregarding his duty, continuously, unlawfully and willfully neglected and omitted to perform such duty as aforesaid and to use and exercise reasonable and effective means within his power as such sheriff for the enforcement of the fingerprint laws of the state and in particular 53:1-15 of the New ...


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