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State v. Abronski

July 11, 1996

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LOUIS ABRONSKI, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported at 281 N.J. Super. 390 (1995).

The opinion of the Court was delivered by Stein, J. Justices Handler, Pollock, O'hern, Garibaldi and Coleman join in Justice STEIN's opinion. Chief Justice Wilentz did not participate.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stein

(This syllabus is not part of the opinion of the Court. It has been prepared by the Office of the Clerk for the convenience of the reader. It has been neither reviewed nor approved by the Supreme Court. Please note that, in the interests of brevity, portions of any opinion may not have been summarized).

STATE OF NEW JERSEY V. LOUIS ABRONSKI (A-86-95)

(NOTE: This is a companion case to State of New Jersey v. Curtis Knight, also decided today.)

Argued March 25, 1996 -- Decided July 11, 1996

STEIN, J., writing for a unanimous Court.

As in State v. Knight, also decided today, the primary issue in this case is the retroactivity of a new rule of criminal procedure.

Louis Abronski was convicted of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and second-degree sexual assault of his girlfriend's nine-year-old daughter. He was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment for the first-degree offense and to a concurrent seven-year term for the second-degree offense.

Abronski appealed the convictions, contending that, based on State v. Reed, his tape-recorded confession was improperly used against him at trial. According to Abronski, an attorney retained by Abronski's mother immediately after he was arrested was not permitted to speak with Abronski when the attorney telephoned police headquarters during the interrogation.

In Reed, this Court held that when, to the knowledge of the police, the attorney of a suspect in custody is present or available, and the attorney has communicated a desire to confer with the suspect, the police must make that information known to the suspect before custodial interrogation can proceed or continue. The failure of the police to give the suspect that information renders the suspect's subsequent waiver of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination invalid per se. Reed was decided after Abronski's convictions but before the Appellate Division ruled on his appeal.

The Appellate Division affirmed Abronski's convictions, finding that Reed did not apply retroactively to this case and that, therefore, the trial court properly admitted Abronski's confession into evidence.

The Supreme Court granted ...


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