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In re J.D.H.

January 29, 2001

STATE IN THE INTEREST OF J.D.H.


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Warren County, FJ-21-006-98, FJ-21-007-98.

Before Judges Pressler, Kestin and Ciancia.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kestin, J.A.D.

Argued: September 19, 2000

J.D.H., a sixteen-year-old juvenile at the time of the events at issue, was charged with acts of delinquency which, if committed by an adult, would have constituted aggravated sexual assault (first degree), sexual assault (second degree), aggravated criminal sexual contact (third degree), and criminal sexual contact (fourth degree). Additional charges sounding in fourth degree contempt and petty disorderly persons were also lodged.

After a trial on three days in September 1998, the judge found that the juvenile had committed the sexual offenses alleged but that the remaining charges had not been proven. The judge's findings and reasoning were expressed in a letter opinion dated September 29, 1998. A judgment was entered on October 29, 1998, formally adjudicating delinquency on the sustained charges. Thereafter, the juvenile moved for reconsideration. That motion was denied on January 9, 1999.

Disposition of the matter occurred on June 30, 1999, after appropriate reports and evaluations had been received. The juvenile was committed to concurrent indeterminate terms not to exceed one year at the Training School for Boys at Jamesburg, see N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-44d, with a provision that he avail himself of treatment for sex offenders while there. Four months post- incarceration supervision was also ordered along with sex offender registration pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2 upon release.

On July 2, 1999, the trial judge denied the juvenile's motion for a stay of the disposition pending appeal. On July 15, we denied an emergent application for the same relief. On August 11, the Supreme Court granted the stay of commitment pending appeal, "subject to those conditions deemed appropriate by the trial court." On August 24, another judge in the trial court entered an order reciting the terms governing the juvenile's release from commitment pending appeal:

1. J.H. is to have no contact with the victim or the victim's family, either directly, indirectly, or through third parties;

2. J.H. may attend Morris County Community College ("college"). If J.H. attends Morris County Community College, he must provide the Warren County Probation Department ("Probation") with verification of his enrollment. J.H. must also notify Probation if he terminates his enrollment from the college by virtue of graduation or otherwise.

3. J.H. is permitted to be employed by his parents' business, North American Fire Protection. J.H. shall provide Probation with verification of his work schedule at the conclusion of each work week;

4. J.H. may operate a motor vehicle alone: (1) to travel to and from work; (2) during the course of his employment; (3) to travel to and from classes at Morris County Community College; and (4) to travel to and from the Warren County Probation Department;

5. J.H. is not to possess or use alcohol or drugs;

6. J.H. is to report weekly to the Warren County Probation Department and provide weekly urine samples for testing by the Warren County Probation Department. That supervision by the Warren County Probation Department is ordered as an express condition of J.H.'s release pending appeal, and shall continue until the disposition of his appeal or up to J.H.'s 21st birthday, whichever occurs first;

7. J.H. may not leave Warren County unless: (1) he is in the presence of his parents; (2) he is attending classes at Morris County Community College; (3) it is in the course of his employment;

8. J.H. may not attend any social events outside his home unless he is in the presence of his parents;

9. J.H. is permitted to go anywhere outside Warren County so long as he is in the presence of his parents.

The juvenile's notice of appeal expresses challenges to the June 30, 1999 order of disposition, which restated the adjudication of delinquency; and to the July 2 order of commitment. The issues raised on appeal bear upon the trial judge's ruling admitting statements the juvenile made in an intercepted telephone conversation. They are:

I. THE POLICE-LED INTERROGATION OF AN UNWITTING JUVENILE SUSPECT VIOLATED THE FUNDAMENTAL FAIRNESS REQUIREMENT OF THAT ...


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