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State v. Perlstein

Decided: December 31, 1985.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
BRENDA PERLSTEIN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County.

King, Simpson and Scalera. The opinion of the court was delivered by Scalera, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).

Scalera

[206 NJSuper Page 248] This appeal follows from defendant's convictions in the municipal court and later in the Superior Court after a trial de novo. Defendant has filed a notice of appeal from her conviction for obstructing the administration of justice contrary to

N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1, having a PBA sticker on her windshield contrary to N.J.S.A. 39:3-74, and refusing to display her driver's license, insurance card and motor vehicle registration in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-29. In her supporting brief, appellant limits her appeal to specific attacks based on the language of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1, an alleged illegal arrest under N.J.S.A. 39:3-29 and then, after baldly asserting a pointless confrontation initiated by the police officer involved, asks this court to "overturn the convictions against" her.*fn1

Both trials resulted in the establishment of the same basic facts surrounding the incident in question. On June 6, 1984 Officer Lizzano saw Ms. Perlstein driving down Main Street in Bradley Beach in her four-door Volvo. His attention was drawn to her car because he saw a PBA door decal on her windshield just above the inspection sticker. He and Officer Sisliano followed and when she parked her car, Officer Sisliano pulled up alongside the rear portion of the Volvo. Officer Lizzano alighted from the car, while Officer Sisliano went down the block to turn around and park on the other side of the street out of traffic. Officer Lizzano walked up to the driver's side of the Volvo, confirmed that it was a PBA decal and said, "Brenda, you're going to have to take this out of the car right away." Ms. Perlstein asked "Why?" Officer Lizzano informed her that it was a violation of state law to obstruct the windshield and the prosecutor had advised the police that the PBA should not allow them to be placed anywhere on motor vehicles. Ms. Perlstein then asked Officer Lizzano if she had to remove it "right away." When he told her it had to be removed immediately, she asked if he had a scraper. She intimated that she might have one in her office a half block away. Lizzano was

going to allow her to go get the scraper. However, at that point, Ms. Perlstein became uncooperative and refused to remove it. She stated that she paid the PBA for the sticker and he had no right to tell her to remove it and that the PBA was harassing her. Lizzano then told her that if she did not remove it he was going to give her a summons. She still refused and started to rant and rave that she was being harassed for donating to the PBA.

As a result, Lizzano crossed the street to the patrol car to obtain his summons book. Then he asked Ms. Perlstein for her license and registration which she refused to tender. She continued to spew a barrage of comments at Lizzano. Lizzano told her that if she did not show her license, registration and insurance card he would issue her three more summonses. She persisted in her refusal. Then she said that she was going to see the Chief of Police to see what he had to say about this incident. With the car door open, she picked up her keys from the seat, put them in the ignition, turned on the car and put it in reverse. Lizzano was standing in the open door and knew he could be hurt if the car moved so he reached in and grabbed the keys. Thereafter, he placed her under arrest.

After arresting Ms. Perlstein, Lizzano told her to get out of the car but she refused. He asked her several times to get out of the car and finally he grabbed her left wrist and gave a "slight tug" to encourage her to move. He warned her that if she continued to refuse to move he would charge her with resisting arrest. Finally, she did get out of the car, was handcuffed and was taken to police headquarters where she was given her Miranda rights. Initially, she refused to give any arrest information but finally cooperated. After the arrest information was taken and the complaints signed, Ms. Perlstein was released. She was in police headquarters approximately 45 minutes.

Ms. Perlstein denied ever having been told prior to this incident that it was illegal to have the PBA decal on her

windshield. However, Officer Hesse testified that on May 11, 1984 he investigated a minor traffic accident in which Ms. Perlstein was involved. At that time he saw the decal, advised her that it was illegal and told her to remove it as soon as possible.

Brenda Perlstein was charged with having a PBA sticker in her windshield in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-74, obstructing the administration of law in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1 and refusing to display her driver's license, insurance card and vehicle registration in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-29 (three separate counts). She pled guilty to the charge of having a PBA sticker on her windshield. Ms. Perlstein also filed a complaint against Officer Richard Lizzano charging him with simple assault and harassment. At the municipal court trial she pled guilty to the charge of having the PBA sticker on her windshield in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-74. She was adjudged guilty of all other charges. The counter charges against the officer were dismissed. On appeal to the Superior Court, after a trial de novo, she was adjudged to be guilty of having violated N.J.S.A. ...


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