Evidence at Detention Hearings: Part 2

by | Aug 24, 2017 | Blog, Criminal Law, Legal Procedures, Monmouth County, Ocean County

The trial court rejected defendant’s claims. The court first found that the State could proceed by proffer at a detention hearing. The court relied on the language and legislative history of the CJRA and also looked to federal law for support. The court noted as well that judges had discretion to order witness testimony. Next, the trial court found that the documents the State had submitted established probable cause for the offenses charged. The court also concluded that defendant would pose a risk of danger to the community if released, and, based on clear and convincing evidence, ordered defendant detained. The fact that judge’s still have discretion to order live witness testimony provide little comfort to the defense. Judges are no different than most people in that they do not wish to make work for themselves and their staffs.

Defendant appealed the order pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:162-18(c). In addition to the statutory claims he raised before the trial court, defendant argued that to allow the prosecutor to proceed by proffer alone would violate his right to due process.

The Appellate Division affirmed in what Justice Rabner described as “a thorough and well-reasoned opinion.” The panel rejected defendant’s due process claim and held that the State was not required to produce a live witness at a detention hearing to establish probable cause. The court observed that procedures to determine probable cause need not “be accompanied by the full panoply of adversary safeguards.” The panel also drew on federal case law that construed the Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C.A. §§ 3141 to 3156. The panel rejected defendant’s statutory arguments as well. The Appellate Division issued its ruling on March 1, 2017. Two weeks later, a grand jury returned an indictment that charged defendant with four firearms offenses. After defendant filed a motion for leave to appeal, the Attorney General superseded the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. The New Jersey Supreme Court granted defendant’s motion on March 29, 2017.