New Jersey v. Robinson

In a matter of first impression, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered the newly enacted Criminal Justice Reform Act to address the type and scope of discovery the State must provide when it seeks to detain a defendant prior to trial. Police arrested defendant Habeeb Robinson for killing a victim. According to the affidavit, two eyewitnesses saw the shooting. One identified defendant from a six-person photo array; the other identified a photo of defendant. The Preliminary Law Enforcement Incident Report (PLEIR) added that a surveillance camera recorded the incident. The pending complaint charged defendant with first-degree murder and weapons offenses. The PSA recommended that defendant not be released. The State moved for pretrial detention. At the hearing, the State relied on the hearsay statements in the affidavit of probable cause (which referred to the two eyewitnesses); the presumption of detention under N.J.S.A.2A:162-19(b)(1) (based on the murder charge); defendant s criminal history and record of court appearances; and the release recommendation in the PSA. The trial court directed the State to disclose the two witness statements, the photos used in the identification process, the surveillance video, and any incident report that the police prepared. The State appealed. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court. The Supreme Court found that Rule 3:4-2(c)(1)(B), on which the lower courts relied, required disclosure of the reports and the photos but not the video. The Supreme Court took this opportunity to clarify and reframe the Rule to help ensure that it struck the proper balance between two important concerns: a defendant s liberty interest and the State’s ability to seek to detain high-risk defendants before trial. View "New Jersey v. Robinson" on Justia Law