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State v. Kemp

July 7, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MARGINIA R. KEMP, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Municipal Appeal No. 06-118.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 3, 2010

Before Judges Kestin and Newman.

Defendant, Marginia R. Kemp, appeals from her conviction in the Law Division on appeal de novo on the record, pursuant to Rule 3:23-8(a), from the Netcong Municipal Court. She was found guilty of obstruction of the administration of law in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1a, graded as a disorderly persons offense, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1b; and careless driving in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-97. On the obstruction conviction, defendant was fined $256, and the court ordered $33 in costs along with $50 and $75 assessments for the Victims of Crime Compensation Board and Safe Neighborhoods Service Fund, respectively. On the careless driving conviction, defendant was fined $106 and assessed $33 in court costs.

On appeal, defendant argues:

I. THE TRIAL COURT'S DECISION SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE STATE HAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THAT APPELLANT KEMP OBSTRUCTED THE ADMINISTRATION OF LAW IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1(a).

A. Appellant Kemp did not act with the required mens rea of "purposely" when her car door tapped the officer's knee because she was merely trying to exit her vehicle to secure her safety from oncoming traffic.

B. Appellant Kemp did not commit any independent unlawful act because she fully complied with all the directions of the officer.

C. If any ambiguity exists in the language of the statute N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1, it must be interpreted in favor of Appellant Kemp.

II. THE TRIAL COURT'S DECISION SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE STATE HAS NOT PROVEN BEYOND AREASONABLE DOUBT THAT APPELLANT KEMP DROVE CARELESSLY IN VIOLATION OF N.J.S.A. 39:4-97.

A. Appellant Kemp exercised reasonable care in the control, management, and operation of her automobile when she briefly swerved out of her lane in order to avoid collision with another vehicle.

We affirm.

In his review of the municipal court proceeding in this matter, Judge Dangler exercised his independent fact-finding responsibilities on "de novo on the record" appeal, as prescribed by Rule 3:23-8(a). Initially, he set the ...


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