On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County.
Michels, Long and Keefe. The opinion of the court was delivered by Michels, P.J.A.D.
Plaintiff State of New Jersey (State) appeals from a summary judgment of the Law Division that dismissed its forfeiture action against various firearms, destructive devices and other weapons owned by defendant Stanley J. Gurski (Gurski).
A review of the procedural history giving rise to this case is important to an understanding of our resolution of this matter. On November 22, 1985, a Union County Grand Jury indicted Gurski and charged him with (1) possession of destructive devices in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3a; (2) possession of a machine gun in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:58-5 and N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5a; (3) possession of firearm silencers in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3c; (4) the manufacture of firearm silencers in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9c and N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(3), and (5) the manufacture of firearms in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:58-1 et seq. and N.J.S.A. 2C:39-9d. The approximately 185 firearms, numerous explosive devices and various military and related equipment that were the subject of the indictment were seized on April 18, 1985, at the home of Gurski in Roselle, New Jersey, by the New Jersey State Police pursuant to a search warrant. On April 14, 1986, following a jury trial, Gurski was acquitted of all charges.
On May 7, 1986, Gurski filed a motion in the Law Division for return of the various weapons and destructive devices that were the subject of the indictment. In addition, he sought the return of all other items seized by the State Police on April 18, 1985. The State did not oppose this motion. Consequently, on June 10, 1986, the trial court ordered the return of all property seized by the State Police on April 18, 1985. Upon receipt of the trial court's order commanding the return of Gurski's property, the State apparently for the first time undertook a
review of the items seized to determine if any of them were illegal per se and constituted contraband which should not be returned. On September 15, 1986, the State informed Gurski that certain items were illegal contraband and, therefore, the State Police would not return them. Specifically, the State claimed that the following items were illegal contraband:
7.63 m.m. cal. Mauser auto pistol, # 364946
.45 cal. Smith Wesson revolver, # 77824
.38 cal. Colt revolver, # 2781
7.65 m.m. cal. Beretta auto pistol, # 555754
.38 cal. Smith & Wesson revolver, # 953306
.45 cal. Colt revolver, # 28360 Butt, # 131712
9 m.m. Luger, cal. UZI auto pistol, ...