On appeal from the Bergen County Court, Law Division.
For affirmance -- Chief Justice Vanderbilt, and Justices Case, Heher, Oliphant, Wachenfeld, Burling and Ackerson. For reversal -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Wachenfeld, J.
The defendant, Taylor, appeals from a judgment of conviction entered in the Bergen County Court on an indictment charging him with subornation of perjury in that, by means of threat to commit violent injury on one Charles Patti, Taylor did suborn the said Patti to commit perjury in the Bergen County Court on March 28, 1950, in a prosecution of Taylor for burglary by persuading Patti to testify that Taylor did not participate with Patti in the burglary of the Universal Food Market in Englewood on February 9, 1949. This appeal was taken to the Superior Court, Appellate Division, and certified here on our own motion.
The Universal Food Market is a large supermarket employing some fifteen people. On February 9th it was broken into, the safe was rifled and money was taken therefrom. When Taylor was tried for this burglary, Patti testified unequivocally Taylor did not participate with him in that enterprise, resulting in Taylor's acquittal.
It was alleged, and there was proof, that the testimony so given was false and that Patti had been induced to commit perjury by the constant and repeated threats of physical violence by Taylor.
The evidence offered by the State is not complicated or long and a summary of it clarifies the legal issues raised.
The assistant manager of the market testified that two days before the burglary Taylor was on the premises and he had a conversation with him while standing near the safe which was subsequently burglarized. Identification of Taylor was made at the New York police headquarters.
Patti, as a State's witness, said Taylor was part owner of certain premises in Brooklyn where Patti rented an automobile mechanic's repair shop; thus he became acquainted with Taylor; that on the afternoon of February 9th, Taylor, equipped with a screw driver, a hammer and a punch, induced Patti to drive him from the repair shop in Brooklyn to Englewood, New Jersey, where they parked in the vicinity of the market in question. Until their arrival at Englewood, Patti did not know their destination or purpose excepting that it was unlawful. At night and after the store had closed, Patti, by means of the screw driver, broke the lock of the steel-plated back door of the premises and thereafter Taylor alone entered the market and broke into the safe. Patti received from Taylor ninety-odd dollars in cash as his share of the burglary.
Later, on February 25, 1949, Patti was apprehended in Brooklyn by the New York police authorities and ultimately, according to his version, after the application of considerable physical force, made a statement implicating Taylor in certain burglaries which were committed in the State of New Jersey. Following this, he made a statement to a New Brunswick lawyer recanting the accusation so made as against Taylor. Patti was later convicted in Monmouth and Middlesex Counties for the burglaries perpetrated there for which he had been indicted jointly with Taylor as a result of the statement made to the New York police.
After the trial in Bergen County on March 28, 1950, in which he exonerated Taylor from any participation, and while still in custody of the Bergen authorities, Patti confessed his perjury. While there, he was visited by Taylor on two occasions and on the latter visit he told Taylor of his change of attitude.
Patti's wife corroborated the relationship between the two families and testified as to certain payments made by her to Taylor through her husband. She was present on April 4, 1950, saw the defendant, Taylor, and heard him talk to her husband in the visitors' booth in the jail, ...