Franks Hearings and Discovery (Part 4)

by | Apr 4, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The majority opinion continued in relevant part: The court noted that, like requests for a Franks hearing, such discovery requests “should include affidavits supporting defendant’s assertions of misstatements or omissions in the warrant affidavit. Further, a defendant should, if possible, specify the information he seeks, the basis for his belief the information exists, and the purpose for which he seeks it.” Ibid. The Luttenberger court applied those requirements separately to discovery requests and motions for hearings, id. at 647, and then described what steps a trial court should take after a preliminary showing has been made, id. at 648. The Luttenberger court provided guidance about when, and, after redactions, what materials should be disclosed to defendants, to “assure the defendant of a judicial check on possible police misrepresentations, while preventing both unfounded fishing expeditions and inadvertent revelations of the identity of confidential police informants.”

The Court adopts the Luttenberger standard and will require a defendant to describe with reasonable particularity the information sought in discovery, sustained by a plausible justification “casting a reasonable doubt on the truthfulness of statements made in the affidavit.” Id. at 647. The discovery request should be buttressed by support for assertions of misstatements or omissions in the search warrant affidavit that are material to the determination of probable cause, the basis for believing that the information exists, and the purpose for which the information is sought. Application of this standard and the determination of whether it has been met in an individual case rest in the sound discretion of the trial judge, who will review the appropriately redacted discovery in camera. Only after such in camera review will the judge determine whether the discovery sought contradicts material facts set forth in the affidavit, should therefore be disclosed, and to what limitations or redactions the discovery might be subject.

The onerous and detailed burdens placed on the defense read like a prosecutor authored this opinion. Justice Solomon was a career prosecutor at the state and federal levels before he was confirmed as a Superior Court judge and Supreme Court justice.