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State of New Jersey v. Randy Clay

January 26, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
RANDY CLAY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment No. 07-08-1104.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 19, 2011

Before Judges Lihotz and Waugh.

Defendant Randy Clay appeals from the denial of two motions preceding his conviction based upon entry of a guilty plea. He first sought to suppress evidence obtained in the execution of a search warrant without the benefit of an evidentiary hearing.

His second motion sought discovery of the surveillance location used by police affiants, whose observations were the basis of the search warrant requests. In support of his request to reverse his conviction for various drug offenses, defendant combines these arguments in a single point, arguing:

THE DEFENDANT WAS DEPRIVED OF HIS FEDERAL AND STATE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO CONFRONTATION AND DUE PROCESS WHEN THE COURT RULED THAT THE STATE DID NOT HAVE TO ADEQUATELY DISCLOSE THE SURVEILLANCE LOCATION FROM WHICH THE POLICE VIEWED THE ACTIVITIES THAT LED TO THE ISSUANCE OF SEARCH WARRANTS AND TO HIS ARREST, OR TO REVEAL ANY DOCUMENTATION SUPPORTING THE USE OF A NARCOTICS BUY FUND. U.S. CONST. AMENDS[.] VI, XIV; N.J. CONST. (1947) ART. I, PARS. 1, 9 AND 10.

We are not persuaded and affirm.

On June 11, 2007 two no-knock warrants were executed for the search of two identified locations: a first-floor apartment on Bergen Street and a first-floor apartment on North 8th Street, both in Paterson. Two additional warrants provided for the search of a 2000 red Chrysler 300, identified by its license plate and vehicle identification number, and for defendant's person. Accompanying the warrant application were the sworn statements of Paterson Police Detectives Edgar Taylor and Ronald Altmann.

These facts were attested to in support of the search warrant requests. Detectives Taylor and Altmann received information related by Detective Lieutenant Humphrey, who had conferred with a previously reliable confidential informant (CI). The CI provided a physical description of a man whom he called "Complete," who he asserted was selling cocaine at a described Bergen Street address.

Detectives Taylor and Altmann set up a surveillance location with an unobstructed view, approximately 175-200 feet from the Bergen Street residence. They saw a man sitting on the front steps matching the physical description of Complete given by the CI. The man was later identified as defendant. The detectives observed an unidentified African-American male approach defendant, briefly speak to him, and hand him what appeared to be paper currency. Defendant entered the Bergen Street residence and returned to the steps after about one minute. The detectives saw defendant drop "unknown items" into the male's hand, at which time the unidentified African American man left the area. The officers believed they had witnessed a hand-to-hand drug transaction. They watched several similar transactions until defendant left the steps, walked twenty feet, entered a red 2000 Chrysler 300, and drove to the North 8th Street address and parked.

Detective Altmann engaged a second CI to make a "controlled drug buy" from defendant. The second CI was searched, found to be free of money or contraband, and given money for the narcotics purchase. Detective Taylor located defendant at the North 8th Street address and followed him until he entered the Bergen Street address.

Detective Altmann observed the second CI approach the Bergen Street residence and speak to defendant, who was then sitting on the front steps. After the brief interaction, defendant walked into the residence, returned approximately thirty seconds later, and handed the CI a small object in exchange for money. Immediately thereafter, this CI met Detective Altmann at a prearranged location. Detective Altmann continuously observed the CI until they met. The CI handed Detective Altmann the item purchased from defendant, which a field test confirmed was crack cocaine. The detectives scheduled a second controlled buy with another CI, repeating the process followed in the prior controlled buy. Again, a field test of the substance purchased from defendant by the CI revealed it contained cocaine.

Using motor vehicle records, the detectives confirmed defendant had received a ticket while driving the red 2000 Chrysler 300. They also checked police records and located a ...


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