Inevitable Discovery and Independent Source Doctrines (Part 2)

by | Jun 25, 2019 | Blog, Criminal Law

The New Jersey Supreme Court continued in relevant part: The handler led the canine to the Tahoe.  Shaw told an officer that he had a bag of marijuana in the car, and the canine alerted to the presence of narcotics. Shaw was arrested.  An officer told Hanson that Shaw admitted he had marijuana in the vehicle and, at that point, she consented to the vehicle search. She signed a consent-to-search form, but did not initial the line attesting that she gave her consent free of coercion.

The officers found drugs in the car and within a tote bag on the back seat of the car. All four passengers were charged with multiple counts of possession and possession with intent to distribute the drugs found in both the motel room and the tote bag.

All defendants moved to suppress the drug evidence seized from the motel room and the Tahoe. The motion court denied their suppression motion.  Shaw pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree possession of CDS with intent to distribute.

The Appellate Division affirmed the denial of Shaw’s motion to suppress the contents of the tote bag, finding he lacked standing to challenge its search, but reversed the denial of his motion to suppress his statement made to police while in their custody. In response to an argument by a co-defendant, the panel also found that the warrantless search of the motel room was illegal.

The Court granted Shaw’s petition for certification, 228 N.J. 506 (2017), and the State’s cross-petition, 228 N.J. 518 (2017).  Following oral argument on November 8, 2017, the Court ordered this case remanded to the Law Division for the court “to address the application of the inevitable discovery doctrine and the independent source doctrine to the admissibility of the evidence seized in the motor vehicle.”

With a remand from the Supreme Court to the trial court, this case would skip over the Appellate Division and go directly back to the Supreme Court if an appeal were taken after the remand hearing. Since there is no mention of a stay being granted, Shaw likely completed a county jail or state prison sentence before his rights were vindicated even though the appeal process was streamlined after the remand.