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State v. Black


August 18, 2009


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Gloucester County, Indictment Nos. 05-10-0796-I and 06-05-0408-I.

Per curiam.


Submitted June 15, 2009

Before Judges Carchman and Parrillo.

Following an unsuccessful motion to suppress, defendant Paul E. Black, III entered a plea of guilty to third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance, marijuana, with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a high school, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7, as well as the same offense on an unrelated indictment. The judge sentenced defendant to concurrent terms of three years imprisonment with an eighteen month period of parole ineligibility. Additional counts of the indictments were dismissed and defendant reserved the right to appeal the denial of the motion to suppress. On this appeal of that denial, defendant asserts that the arrest warrant causing his arrest and the ultimate search incident to the arrest were invalid at the time of his arrest. He further claims that even if the warrant were valid, "[it] [w]as [u]sed [a]s [a] [p]retext [f]or [a]n [o]therwise [i]llegal [a]rrest [a]nd [s]earch." Judge Marshall, sitting in the Law Division rejected defendant's arguments. We affirm.

Both parties agree that Judge Marshall's findings accurately reflect the relevant facts. The judge found:

The facts as I understand them and you can correct me but I believe the essential facts are that the defendant was picked up on or about February 9th of 2006 by Patrolman Williams of Glassboro Police Department. After he observed him in the high school gymnasium watching a basketball game, [he] requested a warrant check. And he saw that there was a warrant against the defendant. He was searched instantly into that arrest and contraband was found pursuant to the charges which are subject -- which is that we're here on today.

The defendant had previously been charged with offenses and my understanding is that he was in fact indicted under 05-10-796 in October of 2005 for charges which occurred on June 15th of 2005, certain counts and April of 2005 and some other counts of that indictment.

The warrants for the June 15th charges was under W2005-466808-06. For the April 20th was a later date. So the April 20th charges were actually filed on warrant 2005-4930806.

Under warrant 2005-466806 the defendant was arrested and posted bail on that. The new charges - - the later charges of April 20th were issued later under the warrant that was later. There was no additional bail required for that.

And while the defendant had been picked up on the initial charges and was later released on bail, he was never picked up on the warrant 2005-4930806. Although he was not picked up on that warrant which was basically an arrest warrant and from my review of it, it appears to me that no additional bail would have been posted, he would merely have been picked up, processed and released, processed meaning, photographed, fingerprinted, et cetera which I should say was already done under the other warrant.

And the State indicates in their factual that there were a couple of efforts to pick the defendant up but it - - that never transpired. In any event the warrant or the indictment as handed down on October 5th, 2005 at least four months after the initial charges. The defendant appeared in court on a couple of occasions and that is superior court so he was making his appearances as required on that summons or that warrant that's still indicated in the system. It was still active.

In any event that is the arrest warrant that was still there when the officer called and was told that it was still active and he was arrested pursuant to that.

While defendant asserts that the warrant "should have been resolved and removed," it was not and it remained a valid warrant of record. The warrant was validly issued, it appeared of record and the police executed the warrant when they observed defendant in the high school gym. There is nothing contained in the record that supports defendant's claim that the warrant was not valid or that it was extant as a pretext for further arrests of defendant.

We have carefully reviewed defendant's brief and scrutinized the record and we conclude that defendant's arguments are without merit. R. 2:11-3(e)(2). We affirm substantially for the reasons set forth in Judge Marshall's thoughtful oral opinion of October 6, 2006.



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