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State of New Jersey

May 16, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF Q.R., JUVENILE-APPELLANT.


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Atlantic County, Docket No. FJ-01-560-11.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 26, 2012

Before Judges Sabatino and Ashrafi.

Juvenile Q.R. appeals from an adjudication of delinquency on charges that, if committed by an adult, would constitute disorderly persons resisting arrest, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2a, and obstruction of justice, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1. After trial at which the Family Part judge found the juvenile guilty of those charges, the judge ordered that the juvenile be supervised on probation for one year and that he pay a mandatory fee of $60 to the Victims of Crime Compensation Board, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3.1a(2)(b). We affirm the adjudication of delinquency.

The juvenile presents one argument on appeal:

THE COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT DENIED THE DEFENDANT THE RIGHT TO PRESENT AN EXCULPATORY WITNESS AT TRIAL.

In the particular circumstances presented on this record, we reject this argument because the court had given the juvenile and his family several opportunities to find witnesses for the defense, because the newly-identified witness's testimony may have been tainted by contacts with the juvenile's family members during the trial, and because the record did not establish that the excluded testimony would have been exculpatory.

Charges were filed against the fifteen-year-old juvenile on September 2, 2010, after his arrest for engaging in a physical altercation with the police at a residence in Atlantic City. The juvenile's trial was conducted on January 10, 2011. The only witness for the State was the arresting Atlantic City police officer.

The officer testified that at about 7:30 p.m. on September 2, 2010, he was dispatched to a residence on a report of domestic violence and a woman screaming for help. When he arrived, several people were sitting or standing near the front stoop, but none of them were cooperative in telling the officer what had occurred. All the persons outside denied being residents of the apartment.

According to the officer, as he approached the front door of the apartment, several males ran out, and one of them tried to close the apartment door. The officer prevented him from doing so and pushed him back into the apartment's foyer. As the officer detained and questioned the man, who was later identified as the juvenile's brother, the man began yelling to several persons outside to come into the apartment and get the officer "off me."

The officer put the brother in a compliance hold and called for backup help. A large group of people began gathering outside the apartment - the officer estimating the number as forty to fifty people. The juvenile then opened the screen door of the apartment. The officer immediately told him in a loud voice to close the door and not come inside or he would be arrested. According to the officer, the juvenile complied at that time.

Shortly, however, the brother again called for help, and the juvenile opened the door a second time and "came at" the officer. The officer pushed the brother toward a backup officer and grabbed at the juvenile. The two struggled physically, moving through the door and out of the apartment during the altercation. According to the officer, the juvenile attempted to put his arms around the officer's body. The officer struck the juvenile with his knee ...


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