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State of New Jersey v. Shafeeq Chappell

December 10, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SHAFEEQ CHAPPELL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 08-09-2140.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 30, 2012

Before Judges Messano and Lihotz.

Following the denial of pre-trial motions to disclose a surveillance location and suppress evidence, defendant Shafeeq Chappell entered into a plea agreement and pled guilty to second-degree possession of a handgun by a convicted felon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7, and the State agreed to dismiss two other charges set forth in its indictment. Defendant preserved his right to appeal the trial court's denial of his pre-trial motions.

On appeal, defendant challenges the trial judge's decisions on these pre-trial motions and also argues the sentence imposed was excessive. Specifically he states:

POINT I.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING [DEFENDANT]'S MOTION FOR DISCLOSURE OF THE SURVEILLANCE LOCATION.

POINT II.

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DENYING [DEFENDANT]'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS.

POINT III.

THE TRIAL COURT IMPOSED A MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE SENTENCE ON [DEFENDANT] (NOT RAISED BELOW).

We have considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable law. We affirm.

Following indictment, defendant moved to compel disclosure of the location used by an Atlantic City Police Department (ACPD) surveillance and arrest team on assignment in Atlantic City's marina district, commonly known as the "Back Maryland" area, whose observations formed the State's evidence supporting probable cause to stop defendant. The State filed a cross-motion for a protective order precluding disclosure. During the in camera hearing, Timothy Rose, a plain-clothes detective on assignment for the ACPD Vice Unit testified regarding the State's use of the surveillance location in this and other criminal investigations, conducted weekly in the "Back Maryland" area, known for drug trafficking and violence, including shootings. Arrests have resulted from information gathered by police using the location for observation. At the time of the in camera hearing in this matter, evidence was being gathered in an on-going investigation using the same location. Detective Rose opined that were the location revealed it would pose a safety concern for police and residents; further, the location, which was better suited than others in the area, could no longer be used.

The judge found the State had met its burden and failure to disclose would "not hinder[]" the defense in "finding out everything about that location except the exact address[.]" The judge denied defendant's motion to compel disclosure and ...


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