NJ Supreme Court: Prosecutor Must Provide Video & Names of Police Officers to Defendant

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On July 19, 2016, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State v. Robert J. Stein. This case dealt with pretrial discovery issues involving police officers from another town and videotapes from the accident scene and the police station.

Defendant Robert J. Stein was driving on Route 23 in Wayne, NJ when he was involved in an accident. The first police officers to respond to the scene were from the Pequannock Police Department. Later, police officers from the Wayne Township Police Department arrived and had the defendant conduct field sobriety tests. The defendant’s testimony at trial differed from the accounts of the two police officer from Wayne Township.

The defendant was taken to the Wayne police headquarters and then to the State Police barracks for breath testing. There was evidence to suggest that the police failed to remove their radios and the defendant’s cell phone from the testing room. Failure to do so could interfere with the Alcotest machine.

In pretrial discovery, the defendant requested the names of each police officer that responded to the scene as well as any video recordings made by either police department. The prosecutor failed to provide all of the requested discovery to the defendant. The defendant was convicted at trial of DWI (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50) and careless driving (N.J.S.A. 39:4-97).

On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the defendant must be provided the names and addresses of the police officers from another jurisdiction who have relevant information regarding the case. The Court also ruled that the defendant was entitled to view the video recordings, if such video recordings exist. Therefore, the Court remanded the case to the Law Division to determine if the videos exist and if so, to determine a remedy.

If you have been charged with a DWI or DUI violation, it is important to speak with an attorney to discuss the particular set of facts and circumstances in your case. An attorney will investigate if a video exists regarding your case. If a video does exist, then your attorney can review the video to determine if any defenses can be raised from the video footage. Attorney Jason T. Komninos is a Qualified Standardized Field Sobriety Test Practitioner and he is trained to look for weaknesses in the police officer’s administration of your tests.