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State of New Jersey v. Emil Marin

August 15, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
EMIL MARIN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Municipal Appeal No. 004-19-08.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 8, 2011

Before Judges Graves and Waugh.

Following a trial de novo in the Law Division, defendant Emil Marin appeals from an order dated September 18, 2009, finding him guilty of driving with a suspended license on two separate occasions, in violation N.J.S.A. 39:3-40. For the first conviction, defendant was fined $500 and his driving privileges were suspended for thirty days. N.J.S.A. 39:3-40(a). Defendant's second conviction resulted in a three-day jail sentence to be served in the Sheriff's Labor Assistance Program, a $750 fine, and suspension of driving privileges for an additional six months. N.J.S.A. 39:3-40(b). Court costs and assessments were also imposed. The period of incarceration was stayed pending appeal to this court. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

On October 9, 2007, Lieutenant Nicholas Corbiscello of the Ridgefield Police Department observed defendant operating a 1999 Volkswagen Beetle on Day Avenue. Corbiscello, who was familiar with defendant, "was aware that [defendant]'s driver's license was suspended." For that reason, he activated his siren and overhead lights, and defendant pulled over. Defendant produced his license, and Corbiscello entered the information into a computer in the police vehicle. According to Corbiscello, the results indicated "[defendant's] driving privileges in the State of New Jersey were suspended, and there was also an active warrant for [his] arrest for failure to appear in reference to a summons for the same type of violation issued in Palisades Park, New Jersey." Defendant was issued a summons for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.

Eight months later, on June 19, 2008, Corbiscello again witnessed defendant driving a 1999 Volkswagen Beetle in Ridgefield, however, "this time it ha[d] a different license plate on it." Defendant complied with Corbiscello's order to stop the vehicle, but he subsequently failed to produce his license. Nonetheless, a computer search confirmed to Corbiscello that defendant's license was still suspended, and defendant was issued a second summons for violating N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.

The summonses were tried separately in the Tenafly Municipal Court on September 17, 2008.*fn1 Corbiscello was the only witness to testify in both trials. During each trial, the State introduced into evidence a current abstract of defendant's driving history, which was certified by the Chief Administrator of the MVC as "a true computerized abstract of [defendant]'s driver history record . . . includ[ing] accidents, suspensions and convictions for moving violations." According to the abstract, which defendant did not object to, defendant's license was suspended on May 16, 2006, for failure to comply with a court installment order. The municipal court concluded that the State met its burden of proof for each summons.

Defendant subsequently filed a notice of appeal with the Law Division. After a trial de novo, the Law Division issued a written opinion on September 18, 2009, upholding defendant's convictions and penalties:

The State introduced into the court record a certified copy of defendant's driver abstract affirming the two license suspensions. The abstract was entered into evidence under the business record exception to the hearsay rule. Taken with Lieutenant Corbiscello's testimony identifying defendant as the driver of the motor vehicle, this evidence [was] sufficient to find defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of operating a motor vehicle contrary to N.J.S.A. 39:3-40.

On appeal, defendant raises the following arguments for our consideration:

POINT I

THE CONVICTION SHOULD BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE STATE FAILED TO PROVE BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THAT DEFENDANT'S LICENSE WAS SUSPENDED.

A. A CRYPTIC AND UNAUTHENTICATED COMPUTER PRINTOUT IS INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO PROVE THAT ...


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