Confrontation Clause Cases (Part 39)

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The three-judge panel continued in relevant part: Defendant also contends that he is independently entitled to cross-examine the authors of the laboratory reports and the blood sample certificate under the Confrontation Clause of the New Jersey Constitution, article I, paragraph 10, regardless of whether such a confrontation right is mandated under the Federal Constitution. We disagree.

The texts of the Confrontation Clause in the Sixth Amendment and in article I, paragraph 10 of our state constitution are identical. We recognize that at times our Supreme Court has construed provisions in our state constitution as conferring upon New Jersey citizens greater protections than those they enjoy as United States citizens under cognate provisions in the Federal Constitution. See, e.g., State v. Hempele (state constitutional right of privacy in curbside trash disposed of in sealed containers); State v. Hunt (state constitutional right of privacy in telephone billing records); State v. Schmid (state constitutional right of free speech on certain privately-owned property that has been opened for public use). However, the recognition of such additional protection under our state’s charter has been occasional and by no means automatic. See State v. Hunt (Handler, J., concurring) (reciting various factors in deciding whether to adopt a more expansive reading of a state constitutional provision that parallels a federal constitutional provision).

The Court’s recitation of cases that apply greater protections under our state constitution is incomplete. Additional examples include: State v. Earls, 214 N.J. 564, 568-69, 584-85 (2013) (noting the New Jersey Constitution provides greater privacy rights to cell phone users than does the Federal Constitution); State v. Eckel, 185 N.J. 523, 538 (2006)(holding the New Jersey Constitution prohibits the search of an auto incident to arrest where the occupant is removed from the vehicle and secured elsewhere); State v. McAllister, 184 N.J. 17, 33 (2005) (finding a legitimate expectation of privacy in bank records under the State Constitution in contrast to the Federal Constitution); State v. Pierce, 136 N.J. 184, 215 (1994) (invalidating a warrantless vehicular search based on an arrest for a motor vehicle offense);State v. Tucker, 136 N.J. 158, 166-70 (1994) (holding that in contrast with the Fourth Amendment, the New Jersey Constitution prohibits police from stopping defendants solely because of flight upon seeing police); State v. Hempele, 120 N.J. 182, 195-215 (1990) (holding warrantless searches of garbage bags left on a curb for collection are invalid under the State Constitution); State v. Novembrino, 105 N.J. 95, 145-58 (1987) (rejecting under the State Constitution the federal “good faith” exception to the exclusionary rule for search warrants issued in good faith but without probable cause); State v. Hunt, 91 N.J. 338, 350 (1982) (holding the State Constitution affords a protectable interest in telephone toll billing records); State v. Alston, 88 N.J. 211, 224-30 (1981) (recognizing a possessory interest in property sufficient to confer standing under the State Constitution to challenge the validity of a vehicle search); State v. Johnson, 68 N.J. 349, 353-54 (1975) (holding under the State Constitution the validity of a consent search requires knowledge of the right to refuse consent).