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State v. Williams

February 9, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
STANLEY WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 07-12-01947.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 20, 2009

Before Judges Reisner and Sapp-Peterson.

By leave granted, the State appeals from a trial court order dated May 28, 2008, granting defendant's motion to suppress. We affirm, substantially for the reasons stated in Judge DeVesa's oral opinion placed on the record on May 28, 2008.

I.

Defendant Stanley Williams was suspected of submitting a forged doctor's note to justify absences from his job as a public school teacher. During an interrogation by a prosecutor's investigator and a New Brunswick police officer, defendant gave a statement incriminating himself. Williams challenged the admissibility of his statement, claiming that he did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his Miranda*fn1 rights.

The evidence at the Miranda hearing consisted of testimony from Prosecutor's Investigator Robert Torrisi, a videotape and a typed transcript of the police interrogation, and a signed Miranda card. According to Torrisi, he contacted defendant by telephone, and told him that he was "conducting an investigation and that his name came up and I needed to speak to him." He did not tell defendant that he was a suspect in the investigation. Torrisi scheduled an appointment for defendant to come to the Prosecutor's office, "assuring [defendant] that he was not going to be placed under arrest."

When defendant arrived, Torrisi and New Brunswick Police Detective Scott Gould brought defendant into a small windowless interview room and conducted a videotaped interrogation.*fn2 There was no dispute that the Miranda card had a line on which a defendant could acknowledge being advised of the Miranda rights, but it had no section in which a defendant could acknowledge waiving those rights. After the interview, defendant was permitted to leave. He was later issued a summons and was indicted for official misconduct, N.J.S.A. 2C:30-2; forgery, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1a(3); and receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7.

We set forth below the pertinent portion of the police interview in its entirety:

Q: Okay, this is Investigator Robert Torrisi with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office and Detective Scott Gould, New Brunswick Police Department. Prosecutor's Office number, um, investigation 070157. It's a case of Stanley Williams, a teacher at the Board of Ed, New Brunswick. It is Tuesday, August 7th, 11:43 a.m. and we're in the Prosecutor's Office, Interview Room on the 2nd floor. Do you have case number Scott or anything?

DET. GOULD: No, we'll punch it in here, you know. . .

Q: Okay.

DET. GOULD: I ain't worried that far as ah (Inaudible).

Q: Alright Mr. Williams, you can have a seat over here.

A: Interrogation Room, ha?

Q: Yeah.

A: That's what this is?

DET. GOULD: Honestly, it's an Interview Room.

A: Okay.

DET. GOULD: Yeah.

Q: So, um, you're probably wondering why you're here?

A: Yeah.

Q: Okay, alright.

A: And would be ...


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