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State v. Nicoloudakis

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 6, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
FRANK NICOLOUDAKIS, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued October 29, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Mercer County, Municipal Appeal No. 11-2010.

Frank Nicoloudakis, appellant, argued the cause pro se.

Laura Kotarba, Assistant Prosecutor, argued the cause for respondent (Joseph L. Bocchini, Jr., Mercer County Prosecutor, attorney; Ms. Kotarba, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Alvarez and Carroll.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Frank Nicoloudakis appeals his speeding conviction after a trial de novo in the Law Division and the reimposition of a $156 penalty. See R. 3:23; N.J.S.A. 39:4-98. We affirm.

Hopewell Township Officer Christopher Vaccarino stopped Nicoloudakis on November 13, 2009, after observing him passing in the opposite direction at an excessive speed. Through the use of a K55 radar gun, he determined that Nicoloudakis was traveling fifty-eight miles per hour in a forty-mile-per-hour zone. At the time of the stop, Nicoloudakis was driving eastbound on Bull Run Road. In that area, the eastbound lane was actually situated in Ewing Township. The westbound lane was located in Hopewell Township. This matter was initially tried in the Hopewell Township Municipal Court.

At trial, the State introduced documents establishing that Vaccarino had been certified as a radar operator. These documents revealed that the stop in this case occurred after his certification lapsed on December 31, 2008 but before it was renewed on December 1, 2009.

Nicoloudakis attempted to cross-examine the officer about whether he recalled seeing Nicoloudakis's "disabled person identification card" at the time of the traffic stop. The officer stated that he did not specifically recall Nicoloudakis's identification; the State objected to the line of questioning. When Nicoloudakis responded that he wanted to explore Vaccarino's bias against disabled persons, the State pointed out that there was no objective basis for the suspicion. The court sustained the objection because the line of questioning was not supported by anything in the proofs.

At the end of the municipal court trial, the judge ruled that because no "statute, regulation, directive, attorney general's opinion or case law" required an officer to be certified before he could use a radar gun reading to establish a speeding violation, the officer's testimony was admissible. The court also ruled that Nicoloudakis's argument that he was being tried in the wrong municipal court lacked merit because N.J.S.A. 39:5-3(c) provided that when a violation occurs on a street on which the border between two or more municipalities is situated, the proceedings can be brought before a judge having jurisdiction in any one of the municipalities. The judge reiterated that nothing in the record warranted Nicoloudakis's line of questioning with reference to the officer's purported bias against disabled persons. Nicoloudakis was convicted and the sentence was imposed.

The Law Division judge likewise concluded that the radar certification was "strictly voluntary, " and that, therefore, failure to become recertified did not bar the officer from operating the radar device and issuing tickets for speeding based on its readings. The Law Division judge agreed that N.J.S.A. 39:5-3(c) authorized the trial of the matter in either municipality, Ewing Township or Hopewell Township. The judge further found that there was no foundation for Nicoloudakis's ...


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