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State v. Potts

Decided: June 18, 1982.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HAROLD DAVID POTTS, DEFENDANT



Haines, A.j.s.c.

Haines

The Assignment Judge for Burlington and Ocean Counties issued the following directive on March 25, 1982:

Some courts in the vicinage have a substantial backlog of drunk driving cases. It is anticipated that the new legislation will significantly increase the number of contested drunk driving cases, thereby adding to the present problem. It has long been the policy of the Administrative Office of the Courts that complaints in these matters be adjudicated within two months of filing. Strict enforcement of this requirement will eliminate backlogs.

All Municipal Court Judges are directed to adopt the following procedures with respect to drunk driving complaints:

1. Police officers shall be instructed to schedule initial court dates for the court session next following the issuance of the ticket.

2. At the time of the first appearance, the case should be heard, if possible. It is anticipated, however, that this occasion will be utilized, in most cases, to advise the defendant of constitutional rights. If the case is not heard, a firm trial date should then be scheduled within two to three weeks.

If the defendant pleads guilty, after a proper explanation of his constitutional rights, the case should be scheduled for sentencing within ten days plus additional time as required for receipt of the driver abstract. The complainant-police officer should be given an opportunity to appear at the sentencing.

3. Any request for an adjournment to a date later than two months from the date of the filing of the complaint shall be denied.

The defendant should be advised as to the adjournment policy at the time of his or her first appearance and should be instructed to so advise any attorney employed to defend the case.

Defendant Harold Potts was charged with drunk driving. His case was listed for trial on the 40th day following the filing of his complaint, on which date he appeared in court with counsel ready to proceed. The State was prepared to offer the results of a breathalyzer test into evidence as part of its case. However, the second certificate required as proof of the proper functioning of the breathalyzer equipment had not been received by the prosecutor on the trial date. As a result, at the request of the prosecution, the case was postponed, with the suggestion from the court that a date convenient to the defense could be selected.

Defendant objected to the postponement. His earlier request for an adjournment had been denied. He introduced a letter (marked in evidence) from the clerk of the court stating in part as follows:

There can be no postponement of this matter due to the fact that summons was issued March 10, 1982 and made returnable for April 19. Under the new directive of Judge Haines, all motor vehicle matters under the ...


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