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State v. Rolle

Decided: July 6, 1993.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
EDDIE EUGENE ROLLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court, Law Division, Burlington County.

Pressler, R.s. Cohen and Kestin. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kestin, J.A.D.

Kestin

Defendant was convicted of murder and related offenses arising from an incident in which one person was killed and another seriously injured from gunshots fired into a crowd during a fistfight. Four persons, including defendant, were eventually charged. The incident occurred in the early morning hours of September 3, 1988. Investigators of the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office recovered two handguns and some descriptive information focusing on defendant and other suspects.

At about 2:45 p.m. on September 13, 1988 an "order authorizing investigative detention" was entered in the Law Division. The order, issued " ex parte upon an emergent basis," required defendant and two others to "furnish forthwith . . . a full

set of fingerprints and palm prints and . . . [to] cooperate in posing for a photograph depicting a frontal view of their faces . . . ." The order also provided "that the detention of . . . [the subjects] for purposes of photographing and fingerprinting . . . shall not be for a period of time exceeding five hours . . . ."

Shortly thereafter, at about 4:00, the investigative detention order was executed upon defendant. He was taken into custody, given Miranda warnings, and transported to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, arriving at approximately 4:20. Once again, Miranda warnings were read to defendant.

The investigators undertook a course of systematic interrogation lasting more than 3 hours, culminating in defendant's tape-recorded question-and-answer statement beginning at 7:43 and ending at 8:54. It was only then, at about 9:00, after five hours in custody, that defendant was photographed and fingerprinted.

At about 10:00, defendant was provided with food and drink. At about 11:00, a polygraph examination was administered to defendant. As a result of the polygraph, further questioning occurred and an additional taped statement was taken beginning at 12:50 a.m. and ending at 1:01.*fn1 Thereafter, defendant was taken to the Burlington County Jail.

It is clear that the attorneys and investigators of the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office misperceived the function and scope of investigative detention. In so doing, they applied far too generally and broadly a procedural device adopted for a limited and narrow purpose. The result was an inculpatory statement by defendant which should have been suppressed because it was obtained in an altogether invalid manner. The trial court's failure to suppress the statement requires a reversal of defendant's conviction.

Manifestly, when the Supreme Court validated investigative detention orders in State v. Hall, 93 N.J. 552, 461 A.2d 1155, cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1008, 104 S. Ct. 526, 78 L. Ed. 2d 709 (1983), and adopted R. 3:5A to establish the procedural mechanisms, it meticulously struck a fine balance between the State's interests in pursuing criminal investigations and the constitutionally protected privacy, liberty and personal integrity interests of all citizens upon whom criminal investigations might focus. The Court saw such orders as appropriate devices for assisting the police in limited ways and in closely defined circumstances. Because investigative detention orders were, by definition, to be directed against unarrested and uncharged suspects, however, they could be used only to compel lineups or other minimally intrusive identification procedures such as fingerprinting, photographing, and the taking of some exemplars. Id. at 562-64, 461 A.2d 1155; R. 3:5A-4.

The Court based its rationale on the premise that an investigative detention order might be needed and justifiable where probable cause to arrest is lacking. State v. Hall, supra, 93 N.J. at 554, 461 A.2d 1155. The authority to grant such orders "is founded on the judiciary's constitutional powers over searches and seizures," id. at 557, 461 A.2d 1155, and is invokable "to advance the investigation of criminal cases." Id. at 558, 461 A.2d 1155. ...


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