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In re Search and Seizure of Property at Premises of C Co.

Decided: June 18, 1971.

IN THE MATTER OF THE SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF PROPERTY AT PREMISES OF C COMPANY IN ROSELLE, NEW JERSEY, AND IN THE MATTER OF THE SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF PROPERTY AT PREMISES OF A IN NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, AND IN THE MATTER OF THE SEARCH AND SEIZURE OF PROPERTY AT PREMISES OF B COMPANY IN EAST ORANGE, NEW JERSEY


Lewis, Matthews and Mintz.

Per Curiam

The State, with leave of court, appeals from interlocutory orders entered by a Superior Court judge requiring the single affidavit, and any other supportive material upon which three search warrants issued, be made available to the parties claiming to be aggrieved by the search.

Our order granting leave to appeal also provided that the State refrain from calling four named individuals as witnesses before the Union County grand jury until further order of the Court.

On this accelerated appeal the State contends that the trial judge (a) erred in allowing disclosure of the affidavit and other supportive evidence to respondents (applicants); (b) erred in refusing to conduct an in camera hearing out of the presence of applicant's counsel and the applicants, to determine whether justice would be served by a pre-indictment disclosure of the affidavit; and (c) abused his discretion in allowing disclosure of the affidavit and other supportive evidence, rather than direct that pursuant to R. 3:6-8(a) any

indictment returned against any of the applicants be kept secret until they are afforded opportunity to examine the affidavit.

On April 6, 1971 the Superior Court judge issued three search warrants upon the basis of a single affidavit. It appears that there was no testimony or other evidence offered in support of the application for these warrants. One warrant was to search the office of A, an attorney, in Newark. Another search warrant was for the office of B, certified public accountants, in East Orange. The third search warrant was for the offices of the C company in Roselle.

On April 7, 1971 a search of each of the three premises was made, and property belonging to A, B and the C company, as well as D, the E company and F company was seized.

Prior to April 6, 1971, and continuing to May 1971, the grand jury of Union County has been investigating alleged irregularities in the granting of a subdivision to the E company by the Scotch Plains Planning Board.

D, president of the C and E companies; S, secretary of the E company, and a partner in B; A, registered agent of the E company, and G, a partner in B, are under subpoena to appear before the Union County grand jury in connection with the aforementioned investigation. Except for G, the State concedes that the named individuals are targets of the grand jury investigation.

Significantly, the judge who issued the search warrants entered the orders, making available to the applicants copies of the affidavit upon which the search warrants issued. Such orders have been stayed pending disposition of this appeal.

We are satisfied that the judge, in the circumstances here presented, properly ordered disclosure of the affidavit and other supportive evidence to the applicants. R. 3:5-6 expressly provides that:

[T]he warrant, affidavit and testimony shall be confidential but on order of the Superior Court or a county court they shall be made available, on application and notice to the county prosecutor, to a person claiming ...


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