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State v. Fariello

Decided: March 12, 1975.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LEONARD FARIELLO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Carton, Crane and Kole. The opinion of the court was delivered by Crane, J.A.D.

Crane

Defendant was convicted of possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, maintaining premises which were resorted to by persons for the purpose of unlawful distribution of marijuana and possession of a dangerous knife. He was sentenced to concurrent indeterminate sentences at Yardville.

On this appeal defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence. The search which led to the discovery of the evidence was authorized by a search warrant which had been issued on the basis of a supporting affidavit of a State Police detective supplemented

by oral statements made by the detective to the judge. Defendant initially questions whether the oral statement was under oath. We are persuaded that there was sufficient basis for the finding of the trial judge that the oral statement was given under oath. Of more substantial significance is the contention that the contents of the supplementary oral statement should not be considered because no transcript or summary of the oral testimony was filed, as is required by R. 3:5-6. There is nothing improper in the judge's conduct in eliciting information in addition to that contained in the affidavit. State v. Mark, 46 N.J. 262, 274 (1966); State v. Clemente, 108 N.J. Super. 189, 197 (App. Div. 1969), certif. den. 55 N.J. 450 (1970). However, in State v. Stolzman, 115 N.J. Super. 231 (App. Div. 1971), testimony which was not preserved as required by the rule was held to be inadmissible on a motion to suppress. See also, State v. Bisaccia, 131 N.J. Super. 270 (App. Div. 1974).

While we agree that compliance with the requirements of R. 3:5-6 is desirable, we do not agree that a search conducted pursuant to a warrant supported by evidence sufficient to constitute probable cause must be invalidated because the issuing magistrate failed to document fully the evidence upon which the search was authorized.

It is true that a burden upon the administration of justice is created by the failure of the judge issuing the warrant to file a transcript or a summary. The failure however is not of constitutional dimension. Cf. United States ex rel. Washington v. Yeager, 448 F. 2d 87 (3 Cir. 1971), cert. den. 404 U.S. 967, 92 S. Ct. 345, 30 L. Ed. 2d 287 (1971). Neither the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution nor the provisions of Article I, paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution impose any such requirement. The obligation of making a record of the supporting factual allegations is entirely created by rule of court. Application of an exclusionary rule may have been necessary as a means of forcing police officials to comply with constitutional guarantees against unreasonable searches. See Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643,

81 S. Ct. 1684, 6 L. Ed. 2d 1081 (1961); State v. Bisaccia, 58 N.J. 586 (1971); State v. Kasabucki, 52 N.J. 110 (1968). The warrant in the present case was issued at about 11 P.M. at the home of the issuing judge. In view of this circumstance and the evidence we have detailed below, we see no necessity to exclude consideration of information supplied to the judge who issued the search warrant merely because that judge failed to comply fully with a court-made rule. See State v. Clemente, supra, 108 N.J. Super. at 198. The provisions of the rule have sometimes been regarded as directory. State v. Harris, 98 N.J. Super. 502, 504 (App. Div. 1968), certif. den. 51 N.J. 396 (1968). We believe that the conclusion in Stolzman injects an atmosphere of rigidity in an area requiring a degree of flexibility. Our conclusion, however, should not be construed as approval or condonation of the failure of the issuing judge to comply with R. 3:5-6. The duty of full compliance remains clear.

We turn now to an examination of the sufficiency of the facts upon which the warrant was issued. We approach our task with the realization that we must pay substantial deference, as did the trial judge, to the finding of probable cause by the issuing judge. State v. Perry, 59 N.J. 383, 393 (1971); State v. Kasabucki, supra, 52 N.J. at 120 (1968). We are not, as defendant suggests, required to weigh the factual accuracy of the assertions of the officer making application for the warrant. State v. Petillo, 61 N.J. 165, 174 (1972), cert. den. 410 U.S. 945, 93 S. Ct. 1393, 35 L. Ed. 2d 611 (1973).

The affidavit recited that the officer had reason to believe that drugs were located on the premises; that officers of the New Jersey State Police had occasion to check the contents of an army-type duffle bag found in a vehicle under the control of residents of the property; that the duffle bag contained numerous plastic bags weighing approximately one pound apiece containing a green vegetable substance identified as marijuana. In addition, the detective told the judge issuing the warrant that the vehicle in which the marijuana

had been found had been sold to a neighbor as a junk vehicle for parts and that the neighbor noticed that the trunk had a brand new hasp on it which made him suspicious. The police found some bags containing vegetation residue in the trunk and the neighbor found the duffle bag in the car. The officer also stated that defendant and one of the other residents had records of arrests for narcotic offenses and that neighbors ...


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