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State v. McCarthy

November 7, 2007


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Docket No. BMA-004-06-06.

Per curiam.


Argued Telephonically October 1, 2007

Before Judges Lintner, Parrillo and Sabatino.

Defendants Garry and Regina McCarthy, husband and wife, appeal from their respective convictions -- his for obstructing vehicular traffic and hers for unreasonable noise -- in the Palisades Interstate Parkway Court of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC), and again on appeal in the Law Division, after a trial de novo. Defendants were each sentenced to pay a fine of $200 and court costs of $30 for their respective violations of PIPC rules and regulations. For the following reasons, we affirm.

The facts found by the Law Division in its de novo review are as follows:

On February 18, 2005, Officers Thomas Rossi ("Rossi") and Roman Galloza ("Galloza") of the PIP PD were patrolling the Northbound Sunoco, Englewood Cliffs section of the Palisades Parkway ("the Rest Stop"), together in an unmarked police vehicle. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Rossi wrote out a summons for a Saturn that was parked in a handicapped spot without a placard. At the time, no individuals were in the vehicle. Soon after writing the summons, Kyla McCarthy ("Kyla"), the driver of the vehicle, approached and informed Rossi of her identity and that she was, in fact, handicapped but that she did not have the placard with her as she was driving her mother's car. Rossi then informed Kyla that he could not dismiss the summons himself, but that he would recommend to the prosecutor to dismiss the summons if she brought in her placard or documentation of her handicap.

After receiving the summons, Kyla telephoned her father, Garry McCarthy, from her cell phone and indicated to Rossi that her father would like to speak with him. Rossi responded that he would not speak on the phone with her father. Kyla further indicated that her father was the Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Police Department. Rossi still refused to speak to her father and reminded Kyla that she could show documentation to the prosecutor in order to have the summons dismissed. Kyla then entered her vehicle and began to drive in the wrong direction in the designated "one way" area. Rossi then approached Kyla's vehicle and informed her that she must leave the area to which Kyla agreed. As she was driving away, Rossi reported hearing Kyla indicating to her father that the police officers would not let her get gas.

Shortly after Kyla left the Rest Stop, Garry and Regina McCarthy entered the Rest Stop in a black Ford Explorer. After entering the area, the Explorer reversed alongside the officers' vehicle resulting in both vehicles sitting side by side in the exit lane so that cars could not pass. Mr. McCarthy exited the Explorer and approached the passenger side of the officers' vehicle while Mrs. McCarthy remained with the Explorer. A conversation ensued between Mr. McCarthy and the officers regarding Kyla's ticket. During this time Mr. McCarthy's revolver was visible in the middle of his waistband. Mrs. McCarthy was also observed by the officers to have been acting hostile and yelling profanities in the direction of the officers and Mr. McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy became admittedly agitated, and at some point Galloza felt that Mr. McCarthy was in the officer's personal space and detected an odor of alcohol from Mr. McCarthy's breath. Both officers also noted that a small crowd had gathered and that several cars were seen backing up out of the area to get around the blocked exit way. As Mr. McCarthy continued to yell into the passenger side of the officer's vehicle, Galloza then pushed the officers' car door open with his legs and proceeded to place Mr. McCarthy in custody by handcuffing him.

Upon Mr. McCarthy being placed in custody, Rossi called for backup and exited the police vehicle in order to obtain Mr. McCarthy's revolver from his waistband. After putting the revolver in the police vehicle, Mrs. McCarthy exited the Explorer and proceeded to the police vehicle whereupon she attempted to retrieve her husband's revolver. At this time, Rossi restrained Mrs. McCarthy, removed the gun from her possession and placed her in handcuffs as well. Soon after the defendants were placed in custody, backup officers Peralta and Durhim arrived and transported the defendants to the police station.

After arriving at the police station, the defendants were each issued one violation. Mr. McCarthy was cited for obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic in violation of PIPC Rules and Regulations Section 408.1(f)(4), and Mrs. McCarthy was cited for unreasonable noise in violation of PIPC Rules and Regulations Section 408.1(f)(8).

After his de novo review, the Law Division judge found Regina McCarthy guilty of unreasonable noise "when she shouted profanities at the officers from her vehicle, and then proceeded to retrieve her husband's gun from the officers' vehicle[,]" and found Garry McCarthy guilty of obstructing traffic when his black SUV reversed and parked "alongside the [police] officers' vehicle . . . ."

This appeal follows in which defendants raise the following issues for our consideration:


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