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State v. Miller

June 8, 2007

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DENNIS MILLER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 00-05-0774.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 13, 2007

Before Judges Payne and Graves.

Defendant Dennis Miller appeals from an order denying his petition for post-conviction relief entered on September 8, 2005. We affirm.

In our prior decision dated July 3, 2003, we noted that defendant "entered a guilty plea pursuant to a negotiated agreement" after "Judge Cleary denied defendant's motion to suppress evidence." In his direct appeal, defendant argued his motion to suppress should have been granted and his sentence was manifestly excessive:

POINT I

BECAUSE OFFICER SWEETMAN LACKED PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT DENNIS MILLER WAS INSIDE ROOM 217 WHEN HE ATTEMPTED TO EXECUTE THE ARREST WARRANT, AND BECAUSE THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE TO EVEN SUGGEST THAT T.G. WAS IN ANY DANGER, THE ENTRY BY THE POLICE INTO THE HOTEL ROOM WAS IMPERMISSIBLE UNDER THE FOURTH AMENDMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE I, PARAGRAPH 7 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION (1947). THE SEARCH WARRANT WHICH RELIED ON THE OBSERVATIONS MADE WHILE IN THAT ROOM COULD NOT FORM THE BASIS OF THE SEARCH WARRANT AND CONSEQUENTLY, THE REFUSAL OF THE COURT BELOW TO SUPPRESS THE EVIDENCE SEIZED SHOULD BE REVERSED.

A. THE POLICE LACKED PROBABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT DEFENDANT WAS INSIDE THE HOTEL ROOM.

B. THERE WERE INSUFFICIENT FACTS TO SUPPORT [THE] APPLICATION OF THE "EMERGENCY AID" DOCTRINE.

POINT II

THE SENTENCE OF THE COURT WAS MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE.

We rejected both of these arguments. With respect to defendant's claim that his suppression motion should have been granted, we had this to say:

We affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by Judge Cleary in her comprehensive oral opinion rendered on January 19, 2001. The judge's findings are supported by substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole. State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 470-71 (1999); State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146, 162 (1964). Her conclusions respecting the validity of the police officers' entry into defendant's hotel room, based on probable cause as to his presence and alternatively under the "emergency aid" doctrine, are legally sound. See Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 603, 100 S.Ct. 1371, 1388, 63 L.Ed. 2d 639, 661 (1989); State v. Jones, 143 N.J. ...


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