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State v. Furino

Decided: November 12, 1964.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
FRED FURINO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Goldmann, Sullivan and Labrecque. The opinion of the court was delivered by Goldmann, S.j.a.d.

Goldmann

Defendant appeals his County Court conviction after a trial de novo on the stenographic record taken in the North Bergen Municipal Court.

Detective Nacca of the North Bergen Police Department brought a three-count complaint against defendant, the first count charging that he did "obstruct and interfere" with Nacca, Detectives Montemurro and Stewart, and Sergeant Sybel, in violation of N.J.S. 2A:170-29(2)(b), while the police officers were lawfully on the premises of the Columbia Park Cabana Club. The second count charged defendant, while on the premises (a place to which the public was invited), with uttering certain loud, offensive, profane and indecent language (which need not be detailed here), in violation of N.J.S. 2A:170-29(1). The third count charged that he addressed and made audible and offensive remarks to and concerning Nacca and Montemurro, namely, the indecent

language which we have not reproduced, in violation of N.J.S. 2A:170-29(2)(a). The municipal magistrate found defendant guilty of all three charges and imposed county jail sentences of 90, 60 and 60 days, respectively, the sentences on the second and third counts to run concurrently. The County Court on appeal found defendant guilty on count 1, not guilty on the other two counts, and imposed a 60-day county jail sentence.

Pursuant to the authority contained in N.J.S.A. 33:1-35 and the consent embodied in the alcoholic beverage license application for the premises, the four named police officers entered the Columbia Park Cabana Club premises on July 11, 1962, at about 6:45 P.M. to make a routine inspection. While they were in the rear room one Konigsberg walked in and objected to their presence. When informed that the officers were making a routine inspection, he asked for their warrant and was told they did not need one because they were acting under the alcoholic beverage application. Konigsberg refused to get out of their way and kept interfering. When Sybel told him to step out of the way or he would be placed under arrest, he became abusive, shouting obscenities. Sybel then placed him under arrest. A struggle ensued, and it was then that Furino, who had come into the room with Konigsberg, tried to interfere with the arrest. Detectives Nacca and Montemurro told him to stand back and not interfere. He shouted that he was the owner and the principal stockholder, and let loose with foul language. He punched both Nacca and Montemurro in the chest. He was then placed under arrest, handcuffed and taken out of the premises.

Furino, who described himself as executive director of the club, denied that he obstructed and interfered with the police officials; he claimed that all he was trying to do was to "get to the bottom of what was going on," to "calm things down, because things were starting to boil over." He denied that he assaulted Nacca and Montemurro -- "I think they hit one another." Nor had he used loud and profane language -- "I never did in my life."

Defendant's first argument is that N.J.S. 2A:170-29(2)(b) is invalid because it violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution in that it employs terms "so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application." The validity of a penal law, defendant argues, depends upon its language, and if the law fails to define the crime with sufficient certainty, it must fall, citing Lanzetta v. New Jersey , 306 U.S. 451, 59 S. Ct. 618, 83 L. Ed. 888 (1939); United States v. Cardiff , 344 U.S. 174, 73 S. Ct. 189, 97 L. Ed. 200 (1952), and State v. Caez , 81 N.J. Super. 315 (App. Div. 1963). We find no merit in this argument as applied to the present case.

N.J.S. 2A:170-29 provides, in pertinent part:

"2. Any person who in any place, public or private,

b. Obstructs, molests or interferes with any person ...


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