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State v. Spraulding

January 10, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
GARY SPRAULDING, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Indictment No. 05-09-1921.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 17, 2007

Before Judges C.S. Fisher and C.L. Miniman.

Defendant Gary Spraulding was charged with third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) (count one); third-degree possession of CDS with the intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(3) (count two); third-degree conspiracy, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 (count three); fourth- degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(d) (fourth count); and second-degree possession of a weapon in the course of committing a drug offense, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1(c) (fifth count). He was tried, along with co-defendant Bernard Valentin, and convicted on all counts.

At sentencing, the trial judge merged counts one and two, and sentenced defendant to a four-year prison term on count two, a four-year term on count three, a one-year term on count four, and a six-year term on count five. The prison terms on counts three and four were ordered to run concurrently with the term imposed on count two, and the six-year term imposed on count five was ordered to run consecutively to the term imposed on count two.

Defendant appealed, raising the following arguments for our consideration:

I. THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY THE IMPROPER ADMISSION OF CHARACTER EVIDENCE SHOWING THAT THE DEFENDANT IS A "DRUG DEALER" (Not Raised Below).

II. THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY THE TRIAL COURT'S INSTRUCTION THAT JURORS SHOULD CONSIDER CRIMINAL CONVICTION EVIDENCE TO IMPEACH ONLY THE DEFENDANT'S CREDIBILITY, EVEN THOUGH THE STATE'S KEY WITNESS ALSO HAD CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS (Not Raised Below).

III. THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED WHEN THE STATE'S EXPERT WITNESS ON NARCOTICS RENDERED OPINIONS, NOT LIMITED TO HYPOTHETICAL FACTS BUT BASED SPECIFICALLY ON THE ACTIONS OF THE DEFENDANT AS DETAILED IN THE POLICE REPORTS (Not Raised Below).

IV. THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY THE IMPROPER ADMISSION OF EXPERT OPINION EVIDENCE IN FINGERPRINT ANALYSIS WITHOUT A PROPER FOUNDATION (Not Raised Below).

V. THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED BY THE IMPROPER ADMISSION OF HIGHLY PREJUDICIAL HEARSAY EVIDENCE.

VI. THE DEFENDANT'S RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS OF LAW AS GUARANTEED BY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND ART. I PAR. 1 OF THE NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION WAS VIOLATED WHEN THE TRIAL COURT ERRONEOUSLY ALLOWED THE JURORS TO DETERMINE FOR THEMSELVES WHAT CONSTITUTES AN ATTEMPT TO ...


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