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State v. Musgrave

Decided: May 30, 1979.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
VIRGINIA L. MUSGRAVE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from Howell Municipal Court.

Wichmann, J.s.c.

Wichmann

This matter was heard by the court on March 23, 1979. The hearing was set down to afford the State and defense an opportunity to bring expert testimony as to the scientific reliability of the K-55 Speed Detection Device. This procedure was followed pursuant to the guidelines set forth by the Appellate Division of Superior Court in State v. Boyington , 153 N.J. Super. 252 (App. Div. 1977).

A synopsis of the history of this case is as follows. Virginia L. Musgrave was issued a summons on September 22, 1978 for speeding 68 miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone. She was found guilty of a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-98 in the Municipal Court of Howell Township on January 3, 1979. The only proof of the speed presented by Patrolman Richard E. Healy, Jr. was that he was operating the K-55 radar machine and clocked the vehicle with this device, fixing it at 68 miles an hour.

Defense counsel objected to the admissibility of the radar readings on the grounds that the K-55 had not been judicially recognized, nor was there an expert witness who testified to its scientific reliability. Defendant was found guilty and appealed.

On appeal to this court the State did, on notice, accept the opportunity to present expert testimony. State v. Boyington, supra. The matter was duly set down for hearing,

confining the testimony to proofs of the scientific reliability of the machine and such counter-testimony as defendant might offer.

The State offered testimony of Edward Walker Sergent, vice-president of MPH Industries, Inc., the manufacturer of the K-55 Speed Detection Device. His qualifications included his initial practical training in the field of radar and electronics. He stated that he had been involved in this field and in design for approximately 15 years. He was also in charge of sales for this corporation as they dealt with police radar units for the past five years. He testified that he worked with the engineering and development division of the company in the design, preparation and completion of this K-55 radar instrument.

His practical training commenced in 1943 when he was trained as an aerial gunner and operator of radar in the Navy. There he was trained in the use and repair of aviation fire control, naval electronics, mine warfare and ordinance explosive disposal. He worked on devices and sensors used to detonate these explosives.

He has over the past 15 years lectured at numerous local and State Police academies as well as at Northwestern University, dealing with the use of radar in speed detection devices.

Sergent has qualified as an expert in approximately 20 courts throughout the various states and has received certification from the United States Navy as to the operation and repair of radar units and devices of similar types. He also assisted in the design of the TR-6 and MR-7, both of which are stationary radar devices manufactured and sold by his company and in use today.

The witness testified that the K-55 Speed Detection Device is about four years old. There are presently within the State of New Jersey 600 units in operation and more than 8,000 in use throughout the country. He stated that the K-55 works upon the Doppler principle of radar -- ...


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