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In re State ex rel J.M.

February 28, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF J.M.


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Passaic County, Docket No. FJ-16-1378-06.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 6, 2008

Before Judges Cuff and Lisa.

J.M., a juvenile, appeals from an adjudication of delinquency for offenses which, if committed by an adult, would constitute fourth-degree criminal trespass, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3a, and third-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2a, for which she received an eighteen-month probationary sentence with conditions which included the performance of eighty-five hours community service work and the payment of $200 in restitution. J.M. argues on appeal:

BY FAILING TO PROVIDE A WITNESS' ORAL STATEMENT, THE STATE DID NOT COMPLY WITH R. 3:13-3(c)(6).

A. WHEN A WITNESS IS NOT DISCLOSED TO THE DEFENSE, BUT A COURT ALLOWS TIME TO INVESTIGATE, A COURT WILL NOT ORDER A NEW TRIAL.

B. A SHORT ADJOURNMENT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ENOUGH TIME TO START AND COMPLETE AN INVESTIGATION.

We reject this argument and affirm.

On November 18, 2005, at about 6:30 p.m., the Wayne Valley High School football team was on the field warming up for a game that was scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. Michael Valentino, formerly a teacher and football coach at the school, was planning to attend the game. He entered the school building at about 6:30 and noticed that the doors to the boys locker room were open. He heard the sounds of activity in the locker room and walked in. He saw two girls going through lockers and personal belongings contained in them. He observed the girls, whose backs were turned to him, for a short time, and then inquired what was going on. The girls turned around and looked at him. He was within six to eight feet of the girls. The lights in the room were on. He saw them clearly, and immediately recognized J.M. as one of the girls. When he was a teacher at the school, she was in his study hall one year, and he taught her brothers. J.M. and the other girl ran out of the locker room. Further investigation revealed that some items were stolen during the incident.

Shortly after these events, the football players and coaches returned to the locker room to make their final preparations for the start of the game. Valentino reported what he observed to head football coach, Brian O'Connor.

At trial, Valentino related his observations and positively identified J.M. O'Connor testified, and when asked whether the locker room door was locked during the warm-up session, he replied, "To my knowledge, yes." The prosecutor immediately asked a follow-up question, "Okay. Is it usually locked?" O'Connor responded, "Yes." O'Connor further explained that during football season he and his coaching staff, a total of about nine individuals, had keys to the locker room, and during other sports seasons, other coaches would have keys. There was no evidence of damage to the locker room doors.

J.M.'s defense was alibi. She and her parents testified. They said that J.M. came home from school on the afternoon of November 18, 2005, and that from about 4:30 p.m. until 6:45 p.m., her father took her out to practice driving for her upcoming driving test. They said J.M. and her father returned home ...


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