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State v. Brown

Decided: May 12, 1961.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CLARENCE BROWN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Goldmann, Foley and Lewis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Lewis, J.A.D.

Lewis

Defendant, Clarence Brown, was convicted of knowingly and unlawfully possessing divers papers, documents, slips and memoranda pertaining to the business of lottery or lottery policy, so-called, in violation of N.J.S. 2 A:121-3. He was sentenced to serve not less than two nor more than three years in the New Jersey State Prison. He appeals from this conviction and sentence.

It is contended on appeal that (1) the evidence of constructive possession of lottery paraphernalia was incompetent and insufficient to support conviction; (2) the admission of such evidence found in the physical possession of others than defendant was prejudicial error; (3) objections were made to the admission of such evidence and in respect thereto the court erred when it (a) overruled timely objections, and (b) denied motions to strike the same, at the end of the

State's case and at the end of the whole case; and (4) the court erred (a) when it referred to such evidence in its instructions to the jury, and (b) when it refused to charge as requested by the defendant.

The indictment of the defendant followed three simultaneous raids conducted at premises No. 7 Coleman Avenue, No. 11 Coleman Avenue, and a saloon at Coleman and Moore Avenues, Delaware Township. These properties are located in the same immediate area and for three days prior thereto were under surveillance. During that time, the police authorities observed the defendant entering and leaving each of the premises. At the time of the raids, according to the witnesses for the State, papers, slips or memoranda pertaining to lottery were found at the three locations. Defendant pleaded not guilty and denied knowledge and possession as charged.

At No. 7 Coleman Avenue, the raiders found miscellaneous papers, two large pads and three small pads on the first floor dining room table. They saw defendant running upstairs and throwing papers in the hallway on the second floor. He was apprehended in his bedroom and slips, alleged to be numbers slips, were taken from his wallet. The defendant denied ownership of any of the papers found in the hallway and denied that any lottery slips were in his wallet. Although testimony indicated that there were various types of markings, including dates, figures and notations, on the several papers, no effort was made to ascertain in whose handwriting these markings were made. This dwelling house was owned by one Beulah Branch. Defendant had had a misunderstanding with his wife, left the homestead at No. 11 Coleman Avenue, and rented a bedroom on the second floor of No. 7 Coleman Avenue. Another boarder by the name of Mr. Godfrey Lowers also lived in the same house.

At No. 11 Coleman Avenue, the entire place was searched. In the dining room on the first floor, a number of small slips and two sheets of paper from a shorthand book, containing columns of numbers, were taken from the table and,

at the desk where Mrs. Pauline Brown was sitting at the time, Detective Runner found a yellow tablet paper on which were columns of numerals. In the rear bedroom on the second floor numbers slips were located on top of the wardrobe and in a jewel box. On a shelf of a small night table in the front bedroom Detective DiEva located a ledger which contained dates, numbers and names. Title to the premises at No. 11 Coleman Avenue is in defendant's name and he had access thereto. Mrs. Brown testified under oath that the number sheets belonged to her, and that her husband was not involved in the transaction -- that "he was against it." She was indicted and convicted of knowingly and unlawfully possessing such papers in violation of the lottery statute. She originally pleaded not guilty on November 19, 1959, which plea was retracted, and one of non vult entered on December 10, 1959. Subsequently, she was sentenced to the New Jersey Reformatory for Women at Clinton, and the sentence was suspended on condition that she pay a fine of $1,000.

At the saloon the State's evidence was that one David H. "Sticky" Wilson was apprehended as he approached the entrance, and that numbers slips were discovered, one under his wristwatch and one in his pocket. He was likewise indicted under the anti-lottery statute for knowingly possessing the same, to which he pleaded non vult. This plea was not accepted by the court (he had a conviction record) and was changed to one of not guilty. His trial was pending. In the saloon, a bartender by the name of Russell Walter Cooper had a numbers slip in his right front shirt pocket, one in his left front shirt pocket, and a slip with numerals on it was in his "right rear pocket." The bartender admitted that these numbers slips belonged to him, and he testified that defendant "didn't want no numbers or anything like that going into the saloon." Bartender Cooper was indicted for knowingly possessing said slips. His original plea of not guilty on November 19, 1959 was subsequently changed to non vult on December 10, 1959. On December 17,

1959 he received a sentence of two to three years in State's Prison which was suspended on condition that he pay a fine of $1,000. Title ...


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