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State v. Morel

Decided: January 30, 1992.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RALPH MOREL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



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

Gaulkin, Brody and Landau. The opinion of the court was delivered by Brody, J.A.D.

Brody

BRODY, J.A.D.

The issue in this appeal is whether Ralph Morel (the accused), held in this state under a fugitive warrant originating in New York, is bailable. The accused is charged in a New York indictment with serious drug crimes for which, if convicted, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment. He is presently resisting rendition to New York in habeas corpus proceedings pending in the Law Division. Judge DiGisi correctly held that the accused is not bailable in this state because offenses with which he is charged in New York are punishable there by life imprisonment.

The issue is governed by the Uniform Criminal Extradition Law (Uniform Act), N.J.S.A. 2A:160-6 et seq., the New Jersey version of a uniform law adopted by all the states. The applicable portion is N.J.S.A. 2A:160-24, which provides:

Unless the offense with which the accused is charged is shown to be an offense punishable by death or life imprisonment under the laws of the state in which it was committed, a Judge or magistrate in this state may admit the person to bail by bond or undertaking, with sufficient sureties, and in such sum as he deems proper, conditioned for his appearance before him at a time specified in such bond or undertaking, and for his surrender, to be arrested upon the warrant of the governor of this state. [Emphasis added.]

The accused argues that the emphasized language of the Uniform Act must give way to a provision in the New Jersey Constitution and a Rule of Court.

N.J. Const. of 1947 art. I, par. 11 provides:

No person shall, after acquittal, be tried for the same offense. All persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses when the proof is evident or presumption great. [Emphasis added.]

Rule 3:26-1(d) provides:

Where a person has been arrested in any extradition proceeding, he may be admitted to bail except where he is charged with a crime punishable by death. [Emphasis added.]

No case has dealt with the asserted conflict between the Uniform Act and the New Jersey Constitution, and the inescapable conflict between the Uniform Act and the Rule respecting whether an accused charged in another state with an offense punishable there by life imprisonment is bailable here during the pendency of rendition proceedings.*fn1

The Uniform Act has its roots in the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. art. IV, ยง 2, cl. 2 ...


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