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State of New Jersey v. Michele Zanes

June 14, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MICHELE ZANES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Municipal Appeal No. 43-10.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 21, 2011

Before Judges Waugh and St. John.

Defendant Michele Zanes appeals from a November 30, 2010 judgment after a trial de novo before Judge Robert Neustadter in the Law Division, finding her guilty of exceeding the speed limit established by N.J.S.A. 39:4-98,*fn1 for which she was fined $155 and assessed $33 in court costs. The Law Division judge also found her guilty of failure to exhibit her driver's registration certificate in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-29, for which she was fined $155 and assessed $33 in court costs. After a careful review of the record as well as defendant's contentions, we affirm.

I.

On appeal, the record discloses the following facts and procedural history.

At trial in the municipal court on July 1, 2010, the State's witnesses testified to the incident that led to defendant's prosecution. Kevin P. Devlin is a police officer employed by the Egg Harbor Township Police Department. On July 2, 2009, he was traveling westbound on the Black Horse Pike when he observed defendant's vehicle traveling eastbound in the passing lane. Devlin testified that there were no vehicles in front of or behind defendant and that the road was very open. He made an observation of her vehicle, which appeared to be exceeding the posted speed limit of forty-five miles per hour. He then turned on his Stalker Dual DSR radar unit (Stalker) and began a tracking history, which indicated a read-out of defendant's vehicle's speed at sixty-five miles per hour. He compared the analogue speedometer on his patrol car with that of the digital read-out on the Stalker and they were approximately the same. Devlin testified, "I did lock my radar on as her vehicle was approaching me."

Devlin then slowed his vehicle, moved into the center turn lane, initiated a U-turn eastbound, and accelerated to close the gap with defendant's vehicle. He stated that although defendant's vehicle was traveling in the opposite direction, while he turned he never lost sight of her vehicle. At this point, both vehicles were traveling eastbound toward Atlantic City.

Devlin activated his lights and siren and executed a motor vehicle stop of defendant at 8:04 a.m. After approaching the passenger side of her vehicle, Devlin requested defendant's license, registration, and insurance card. Defendant, in the course of handing her license to Devlin, identified herself as an Atlantic City police officer. Devlin again requested her registration and insurance card. Defendant then produced her insurance card but failed to produce her registration.

Because of an earlier experience he had during a traffic stop of defendant's vehicle in November 2008, Devlin requested that a supervisor from the Egg Harbor Police Department and a supervisor from Atlantic City Police Department come to the scene of the stop.*fn2 Devlin's police car vehicle did not have a mounted camera, so he also requested a vehicle equipped with a video camera from the Egg Harbor Police Department. He testified that he made these requests because "I wanted to make sure that she was treated fairly on this date and that I was treated fairly."

As Devlin was filling out the two summonses in question, the supervisors, together with other officers, arrived at the scene. He then approached defendant's vehicle and issued her a speeding summons as well as a summons for failure to exhibit her registration. At trial, he explained that he issued the summonses because, I told her the last time I had stopped her I had given her a warning for her eighty-five in a fifty or seventy-two in a forty-five at that point, and I told her I had recently had a pedestrian struck and killed in the exact same spot where I had clocked her speeding on both occasions and that I wasn't going to give her a warning this time.

Devlin testified that he performed certain diagnostic tests on the Stalker prior to starting his shift that day, which included tests for using the radar when his vehicle is stationary and when it is moving. He testified that he was a certified operator of radar devices and has "been recertified multiple times through certified instructors [] in Egg Harbor Township." He stated that on March 5, 2009, he was issued his State radar operator card, which permits him to operate the Stalker.

Because defendant alleged that the Egg Harbor police had destroyed the audio recording of the radio transmissions, the State called Harry Sullivan, who on the date of the incident was the Manager of Information Technology for Egg Harbor Township. Sullivan stated that on July 2, 2009, he received "a call from dispatch[] saying that he wasn't able to listen to the instant playback on the computer, [so] he put a work-order in[,] which is our system for tracking trouble." The work-order indicated that all police dispatching consoles, radios and telephones were not working, requiring him to reset the system. He also testified that on July 5, another dispatcher ...


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