NJ Speeding Ticket Law Update : Court Finds New Jersey Speeding Radar Device Inadmissible And Unreli

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Published: 13th December 2010
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Court Finds NJ Speeding Radar Device Inadmissible and Unreliable

Defendant Green was convicted of speeding for driving sixty-three in a forty-five mile per hour zone. Before his trial, he submitted numerous discovery requests to the police department, the prosecutor, and the court. Most of his requests were denied or limited in scope by the trial judge. In addition, he attempted to prove that the speed limit in the area was not what the officer said it was by submitting a Department of Transportation report. But the trial court ruled that this report was hearsay and did not admit it into evidence. At trial, Defendant Green attempted to challenge the reliability of the radar device by testifying as an expert witness. The trial court did not allow him to testify because he did not provide an expert witness report to the prosecution and because he did not qualify as an expert in the field. At trial, the judge took judicial notice of the reliability of the Stalker Lidar device. Defendant Green appealed the trial court's decision. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division held that:

1. The following discovery errors warrant a new trial:

a. The trial judge erred in limiting the scope of a discovery request for "complete history of the officer's training on the radar device" to only his laser card, which indicates that he was trained by the manufacturer in using the device. Any of the officer's specific training and experience with the device is discoverable.

b. The trial judge erred in denying discovery requests for training and operating manuals on proper use of the device by the officer. Such requests were clearly relevant to whether the officer properly operated the device on the day in question.

c. "The officer's September 8, 2008, log book is certainly relevant to the officer's testimony and would have enabled defendant to challenge the accuracy of the officer's ability to recall the events on that date."

d. The trial judge erred when he refused to order the prosecutor to provide defendant with the repair history of the Stalker Lidar device for the twelve months preceding the request. This evidence should have been in the possession of the government and is relevant to proving that the machine was not working properly.

2. The trial judge erred in ruling that the documents supplied to defendant by a DOT official, who represented that they were "true and exact copies of the records represented," were inadmissible hearsay. Such documents were admissible under the public records exception of N.J.R.E. 803(c). Such evidence was relevant to impeach the officer's testimony regarding the speed limit in the area. This substantially prejudiced the defense. And as a consequence, a new trial is required.

3. The trial judge erred in denying defendant to testify as an expert witness regarding the reliability of the radar. The governing rule Rule 7:7-7(c)(5) - which precludes expert testimony where a report was not first served upon the prosecutor - applies only "if the State serves a written notice on a defendant of the discovery it seeks." Further, the judge also erred in ruling that the defendant was not qualified to be an expert witness without first holding a hearing to "ascertain the factual testimony that would be offered and the opinions that would be expressed" pursuant to N.J.R.E. 104.

4. Both judges below erred in taking judicial notice of the reliability of the Stalker Lidar device. "[This device] may not be used in the trial courts as proof of speed until its accuracy has been established at least through the minimal type of testing used to establish the scientific reliability of the LTI Marksman 20-20."

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NJ DWI Attorney, Thomas Blauvelt is a New Jersey DUI Lawyer, and our on-call expert who specializes in Morris County DWI cases. He's featured on the New Jersey Court Directory, a popular public information resource to make the NJ Court system easier for residents. Tom Blauvelt is also a former NJ prosecutor with years of experience. He has numerous offices located through out the state, and close to the Edison, NJ Local Court. Thomas Carroll Blauvelt, Esq. can be reached anytime, 24 hours a day at 1-877-676-7729 for DUI help and a free legal consultation, anytime.

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