On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hudson County, Municipal Appeal No. 3-08.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Parker and LeWinn.
Defendant Jill DeLorenzo appeals from the July 14, 2008 order of the Law Division finding her guilty of driving while intoxicated (DWI), N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, following de novo review. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
The pertinent factual background may be summarized as follows. On December 28, 2006, defendant was arrested by an officer of the North Bergen Police Department and charged with DWI. At defendant's first court appearance on February 8, 2007, her attorney requested a two-week adjournment to submit a brief on a motion to suppress. On the adjourned date of March 1, 2007, defendant filed a motion to suppress; the court set March 21, 2007, as the date for the hearing on the motion. On that date, however, defense counsel was ill and failed to appear; all other parties were present. The court adjourned the matter to March 28, 2007.
During this interim, a new prosecutor took over the case. The day before the March 28, 2007 court date, the prosecutor received a letter from defense counsel requesting additional discovery, which counsel had requested on March 2, 2007 from the prosecutor previously assigned to the case. The request included: (1) the audio recording of the initial call to the police and the time it was received; (2) police dispatch logs; (3) radio call logs; and (4) the recordings of police radio calls. The court set a new trial date of April 18, 2007 to accommodate defendant who had an upcoming vacation.
On April 18, 2007, defendant moved to dismiss based on the State's failure to provide discovery. The prosecutor contended that he had only been involved in the matter for two weeks and that the discovery sought was beyond the scope of normal discovery requests. The prosecutor represented that the requested discovery was being compiled and would be provided to the defense. The municipal judge denied the motion, set a new trial date of May 9, 2007, and afforded defendant the right to renew her dismissal motion at that time.
On May 9, 2007, defendant claimed that the discovery still had not been received and filed a motion to suppress the results of the breathalyzer tests due to the State's tardy discovery response. The prosecutor stated that he had mailed out the discovery to defense counsel on May 4, 2007; therefore, the judge denied defendant's motion and scheduled a pre-trial conference for May 24, 2007 to discuss any additional discovery issues; the judge also set June 20, 2007, as the new trial date.
Defense counsel did not appear on May 24, 2007; therefore, no pre-trial conference was held. The State's witness, Officer Louis Valez, was not present at the time the matter was called by the judge on June 20; the State was afforded the option of waiting to see if the officer would appear at that time. Defendant, however, indicated to counsel that she did not wish to stay and requested a new trial date. The judge marked the case as "try or dismiss" on July 18, 2007.
Defendant was not available on July 18, 2007, and trial was rescheduled for July 25, 2007. Once again, however, the police officers were unavailable to testify on that date. The trial judge noted that the officers' unavailability had been discovered on the prior court date but after the matter had been scheduled for July 25. For that reason, defendant had not been notified that the officers would be unavailable on July 25.
Trial was rescheduled for August 20, 2007, and again marked as "try or dismiss." On August 14, 2007, defendant's mother passed away and defendant needed to go to Florida to attend to matters related to her mother's death. Therefore, all court dates were adjourned until December 5, 2007. However, defendant failed to appear on that date and a bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
Trial finally commenced on December 19, 2007, and concluded on January 9, 2008.
At the outset of trial, defendant moved to dismiss the charges for failure to afford her a speedy trial. In denying that motion, the judge stated:
The [c]court notes that there were 17 dates given in this particular matter going all the way back to January 25th of 2007 . . . . There were a number issues involved in postponements, and both sides requested time [sic] postponement. And the [c]court does note that [defendant] has been out of state for an extended period of time. ...