On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Civil Part, Bergen County.
Before Judges Kestin, Fall and Weissbard.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kestin, P.J.A.D.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted: December 11, 2002
The State of New Jersey appeals from an order entered in the Law Division on February 1, 2002, overruling the decision of North Arlington's Chief of Police which denied Joseph K. Boyadjian's application for a duplicate firearms purchaser identification card (FPIC). The trial court's order mandated issuance of the card"in accordance with the provisions of N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3."
The order emanated from a two-day evidentiary hearing at which the proofs, for good and ample reason with the consent of the parties, were presented in a different order than recommended in Weston v. State, 60 N.J. 36, 46 (1972). Three witnesses testified on behalf of the State; except for proffering his application and FPIC, the applicant presented no affirmative evidence. The court then heard argument on behalf of both the applicant and the State. The judge stated the reasons for his decision in a thorough oral opinion at the close of the proceedings.
There is no essential factual dispute. On December 17, 1996, the Kearny Chief of Police issued an FPIC to Boyadjian who, at that time, resided in Kearny, Hudson County. See N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3d. Thereafter, Boyadjian moved to North Arlington, Bergen County. In July, 2001, he applied to the North Arlington Chief of Police for a duplicate FPIC. See N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.11(a). The North Arlington Police Department conducted a full compliance review investigation, including a criminal history check, as required by statute and regulation. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3e; N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.11(c). On the basis of his department's investigation, the North Arlington Chief of Police denied Boyadjian's application. See N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3c(5). Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3d, Boyadjian sought review in the Law Division.
The first witness at the hearing was Captain Louis M. Ghione of the North Arlington Police Department. His evidence established that the department had received an application for a duplicate FPIC from Boyadjian on the basis of"change of address[.]" It showed a birth date of January 25, 1966, and a current address in North Arlington. The applicant had circled the"yes" answers on the application in response to two questions:
(1) Have you ever been convicted of a disorderly persons offense or adjudged a juvenile delinquent? and
(2) Have you ever been convicted of a crime that has not been expunged or sealed? The space for details following the first question contained the following specifics:
1988 Kearny Rec. Stolen Prop.
1992 Lyndhurst Theft of Parts
1997 Bellville [sic] Lewdness
The space for details following the second question contained the notation"See Above." The circled responses provided to all other questions on the form were in the"No" column.
The application was referred to Captain Ghione as the North Arlington Police Department's officer in charge of processing all requests for FPICs and handgun permits. Ghione initiated a routine investigation. His inquiry to the New Jersey State Police regarding criminal history produced a response noting a"current address" in Kearny and a record of the following arrests and dispositions:
Arrest 001 04/23/1987 Unauth use of veh
Disposition: both charges dismissed (Municipal Court Secaucus)
Arrest 002 07/25/1988 Possess stolen prop
Disposition: Guilty - receiving stolen veh (Municipal Court Dismissed - unauth use of veh Kearny)
Susp confinement 10D Amount assessed $150 Arrest 003 09/02/1992 Damage property
Attempt to commit larc Disposition: Dismissed - damage prop-private (Municipal Court Guilty - attempt to commit Lyndhurst) larc-parts from veh
Dismissed - burgl tools poss Amount assessed $575 Arrest 004 09/15/1993 ...