Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex
Decided: October 19, 2017
D. Gillet, Assistant Prosecutor, attorney for plaintiff
(Andrew C. Carey, Middlesex County Prosecutor, attorney).
Alan Auciello, attorney for defendant.
University police arrested defendant Bentee M. Goines on July
17, 2016, in New Brunswick and charged him with driving while
intoxicated. This appeal requires me to decide whether the
officer had jurisdiction to stop, arrest, and charge Goines.
The municipal court judge held that the officer lacked
jurisdiction to do so and dismissed the charges. I reach a
University Police Officer Angelina Vartanova stopped Goines
just south of the ramp from Ryders Lane onto Route 1.
According to the officer, Goines illegally crossed a double
yellow line to pass another car near a traffic circle where
Ryders Lane and George Street meet. After seeing this,
Officer Vartanova turned on the overhead lights to her police
car and followed Goines to the Route 1 ramp, where she pulled
him over. This occurred in the City of New Brunswick.
performing field sobriety tests and making other
observations, Vartanova brought Goines to the police station
for an Alcotest. The test showed a 0.14% blood-alcohol level,
and as a result, police charged him with driving while
intoxicated, which violates N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. When Goines
appeared in the New Brunswick Municipal Court to respond to
the charges three months later, his attorney moved to dismiss
the summons for lack of jurisdiction.
to Goines, a 2004 memorandum of understanding between Rutgers
and New Brunswick only allows Rutgers police to enforce motor
vehicle laws on certain city streets. Without dispute, the
offense and arrest did not occur on one of those streets. As
a result, the municipal court judge agreed with Goines and
granted the motion. This appeal followed.
Standard of Review
State may appeal to the Law Division as of right when a
municipal court enters a pretrial order dismissing a
complaint. R. 3:24(b). On appeal, both legal and
factual issues are reviewed de novo. C.S. v. Middletown
Twp. Bd. of Educ., 259 N.J.Super. 340, 343 (App. Div.
1992). The appeal here involves a purely legal issue. Thus, I
must decide the issue anew, with no special deference to the
municipal court decision.
issue here is straightforward: Did Rutgers police have legal
authority to stop and arrest Goines, as well as charge him
with driving while intoxicated? More specifically, the
question is whether Rutgers police had jurisdiction even
though the offense took place on a New Brunswick street not
covered by the memorandum of understanding between the city
and university. In deciding this issue, several statutes come
into play, and this appeal turns on their interpretation.
Before getting to that, though, it is helpful to set out the
law regarding jurisdiction generally.
is the predicate to a legal arrest. State v. Cohen,
73 N.J. 331, 342 (1977). Typically, police officers can only
exercise the powers of their office "within the confines
of the jurisdiction which employs them." Ibid.
Therefore, absent legislative or other legal authority, if a
police officer arrests someone outside the officer's home
jurisdiction, the arrest is illegal. Ibid. In
addition, evidence arising from the arrest will be
suppressed. See State v. ...