State v. Funicello

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; WEINTRAUB; Mr. Justice PROCTOR and Mr. Justice SCHETTINO join in this concurring opinion. Subject to his dissenting opinion; FRANCIS
Citation286 A.2d 55,60 N.J. 60
Decision Date17 January 1972
PartiesSTATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Victor R. FUNICELLO, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Marvin R. MATHIS, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Euther PRESHA and Philip Martin Rivers, Defendants-Appellants. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Walter Lee WHITE, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Thomas TRANTINO, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Daniel ARTIS, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Jesse Edward WILSON, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Wilbert SINCLAIR, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Robert T. CONKLIN, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Daniel C. KREMENS, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Frederick Benjamin THOMPSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 60

60 N.J. 60
286 A.2d 55
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Victor R. FUNICELLO, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Marvin R. MATHIS, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Euther PRESHA and Philip Martin Rivers, Defendants-Appellants.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Walter Lee WHITE, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Thomas TRANTINO, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Daniel ARTIS, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Jesse Edward WILSON, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Wilbert SINCLAIR, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Robert T. CONKLIN, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Daniel C. KREMENS, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Frederick Benjamin THOMPSON, Defendant-Appellant.
Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Argued Dec. 20, 1971.
Decided Jan. 17, 1972.

Page 62

[286 A.2d 56] Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender of New Jersey, for appellant Funicello (Gerald T. Foley, Jr., Deputy Public Defender; Richard Newman, Trenton, Jack Greenberg, Jack Himmelstein, Elaine R. Jones, and Mary Lynn Walker, of the New York bar, New York City, Anthony G. Amsterdam, of the District of Columbia bar, Stanford, Cal., on the brief).

Page 63

David S. Baime, Asst. Prosecutor, for respondent in State v. Funicello (David Noah Dubrow, Asst. Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief; Joseph P. Lordi, Essex County Prosecutor, attorney).

[286 A.2d 57] Barry H. Evenchick, Deputy Atty. Gen., for Attorney General of New Jersey, amicus curiae (John A. Brogan, Deputy Atty. Gen., of counsel and on the brief; George F. Kugler, Jr., Atty. Gen.).

Herbert I. Waldman, Asst. Deputy Public Defender, appeared on behalf of appellant Mathis (Herbert I. Waldman, Newark, on the brief; Stanley C. Vanness, Public Defender, attorney).

Michael J. Mitzner, Asst. Prosecutor, appeared on behalf of respondent in State v. Mathis (Elson P. Kendall, Asst. Prosecutor, on the brief; Karl Asch, Union County Prosecutor, attorney).

Michael B. Blacker, Elizabeth, for appellant Rivers; William P. Ries, Newark, appeared on behalf of appellant Presha (Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender, attorney).

Michael J. Mitzner, Asst. Prosecutor, for respondent in State v. Rivers (Elson P. Kendall, Asst. Prosecutor on the brief; Karl Asch, Union County Prosecutor, attorney).

William P. Ries, Newark, for appellant White (Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender, attorney).

David S. Baime, Asst. Prosecutor, for respondent in State v. White (Joseph P. Lordi, Essex County Prosecutor, attorney).

Page 64

Jeffrey E. Fogel, Newark, on behalf of appellant Trantino.

David G. Lucas, Deputy Atty. Gen., appeared on behalf of respondent in State v. Trantino (George F. Kugler, Jr., Atty. Gen., attorney).

I. Mark Cohen, Asst. Deputy Public Defender, appeared on behalf of appellant Artis (Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender, attorney).

David S. Baime, Asst. Prosecutor, for respondent in State v. Artis (Joseph P. Lordi, Essex County Prosecutor, attorney).

David P. Jacobs, Asst. Deputy Public Defender, appeared on behalf of appellant Wilson (Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender, attorney).

David S. Baime, Asst. Prosecutor, on behalf of respondent in State v. Wilson (Joseph P. Lordi, Essex County Prosecutor, attorney).

Richard Newman, Trenton, for appellant Sinclair (Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender, attorney).

David S. Baime, Asst. Prosecutor, on behalf of respondent in State v. Sinclair (Joseph P. Lordi, Essex County Prosecutor, attorney).

Edward M. Weisslitz, Asst. Deputy Public Defender, appeared on behalf of appellant Conklin (Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender, attorney).

John Corino, Cape May Prosecutor, appeared on behalf of respondent in State v. Conklin.

Daniel R. Coburn, Asst. Deputy Public Defender, appeared on behalf of appellant Kremens (Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender, attorney).

Page 65

Alfred M. Bitting Asst. Prosecutor, for respondent in State v. Kremens (Dominick J. Ferrelli, Burlington County Prosecutor, attorney).

Thomas E. Bracken, Asst. Deputy Public Defender, for appellant Thompson (Stanley C. Van Ness, Public Defender, attorney).

Charles M. Egan, Jr., Morris County Prosecutor, for respondent in State v. Thompson.

PER CURIAM.

On April 8, 1968 the United States Supreme Court held the federal kidnapping statute unconstitutional insofar as it authorized the death penalty. United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570, 88 S.Ct. 1209, 20 L.Ed.2d 138 (1968). The statute was construed to mean that the death penalty could be imposed only by a jury verdict, so that if a defendant waived his Sixth [286 A.2d 58] Amendment right to trial by jury, he would suffer no penalty beyond life imprisonment. Thus construed, the statute was held to violate the right to trial by jury. The Court also found the statute 'needlessly encouraged' a plea of guilty, in violation of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. On June 17, 1968 the United States Supreme Court, upon the Government's concession that the federal bank robbery act was indistinguishable from the kidnapping statute, voided a death sentence imposed under the robbery act. Pope v. United States, 392 U.S. 651, 88 S.Ct. 2145, 20 L.Ed.2d 1317 (1968).

When Jackson was handed down, we immediately invited the question of its impact upon our homicide statute under which the penalty for first-degree murder is death unless the jury recommends life imprisonment, N.J.S.A. 2A:113--4, and under which if a non vult plea to the indictment is accepted by the court, the penalty is life imprisonment or the same as that provided in the case of murder in the second degree, N.J.S.A. 2A:113--3. Our statute did not involve a Sixth Amendment issue (a defendant could

Page 66

not waive a jury and be tried before a judge alone), but the non vult plea raised the question whether Jackson's Fifth Amendment thesis embraced our statute.

The issue was presented in post-conviction proceedings as to Forcella and Funicello, both under death sentences theretofore affirmed by us. We held (1) Jackson did not apply, for the reasons we stated at length, and that if we should be in error in that regard, then (2) the non vult plea rather than the death penalty would fall, and this because of the history of our statutes. State v. Forcella, 52 N.J. 263, 245 A.2d 181 (1968). Two justices dissented.

We decided Forcella on July 3, 1968, a few months after Jackson. Both Forcella and Funicello petitioned the United States Supreme Court for Certiorari. Forcella died later of natural causes. As to Funicello, the United States Supreme Court, on June 28, 1971, three years after the filing of our opinion, made this memorandum disposition (403 U.S. 948, 91 S.Ct. 2278, 29 L.Ed.2d 859):

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis granted. Petition for writ of certiorari granted. Judgment, insofar as it imposes the death sentence, reversed and case remanded to the Supreme Court of New Jersey for further proceedings. Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 88 S.Ct. 1770, 20 L.Ed.2d 776 (1968); Boulden v. Holman, 394 U.S. 478, 89 S.Ct. 1138, 22 L.Ed.2d 433 (1969); Maxwell v. Bishop, 398 U.S. 262, 90 S.Ct. 1578, 26 L.Ed.2d 221 (1970); and United States v. Jackson, 390 U.S. 570, 88 S.Ct. 1209, 20 L.Ed.2d 138 (1968). Mr. Justice Black dissents.

On July 23, 1971 the Attorney General filed with the United States Supreme Court a petition for rehearing and a motion for clarification, both of which were denied without comment. 404 U.S. 876, 92 S.Ct. 31, 30 L.Ed.2d 125 (1971). We thereupon set down Funicello for further argument, and other cases involving the same issue were heard with it.

The Attorney General and the prosecutors took the position that by the Funicello memorandum the United States Supreme Court held (1) our statute ran afoul of Jackson, and (2) it was the death penalty which fell. The memorandum

Page 67

decision cited Jackson. There was some ambiguity by reason of the citation of Witherspoon, Boulden and Maxwell, since they deal with the qualification of jurors in a capital case, an issue which in fact was not involved in Funicello, 52 N.J. at 292, 245 A.2d 181, and which would in any event fall away if there were no death penalty. The summary nature of the disposition after a three-year interval was also perplexing. Nonetheless Jackson was cited, and any doubt as to the intention of the United States Supreme Court seems dissipated by the fact that the Court on the same day reversed death sentences in a number of [286 A.2d 59] North Carolina cases and in a South Carolina case, citing only Jackson and Pope. Atkinson v. North Carolina, 403 U.S. 948, 91 S.Ct. 2283, 29 L.Ed.2d 859 (1971); Hill v. North Carolina, 403 U.S. 948, 91 S.Ct. 2287, 29 L.Ed.2d 840 (1971); Roseboro v. North Carolina, 403 U.S. 948, 91 S.Ct. 2289, 29 L.Ed.2d 860 (1971); Williams v. North Carolina, 403 U.S. 948, 91 S.Ct. 2290, 29 L.Ed.2d 860 (1971); Sanders v. North Carolina, 403 U.S. 948, 91 S.Ct. 2290, 29 L.Ed.2d 860 (1971); Atkinson v. North Carolina, 403 U.S. 948, 91 S.Ct. 2292, 29 L.Ed.2d 861 (1971); Thomas v. Leeke, 403 U.S. 948, 91 S.Ct. 2291, 29 L.Ed.2d 860 (1971).

We therefore accept the conclusion that the United States Supreme Court has declared the death penalty to be unconstitutional under our statute. The constitutional infirmity being excised from the statute by invalidating the death penalty, the question is whether the remainder of the statutory scheme will survive. We see no reason to doubt that the Legislature would want the remainder of the statute to stand if the death penalty failed, and we see no constitutional difficulty in taking that course. The consequences are...

To continue reading

Request your trial
76 practice notes
  • State v. Anderson
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • January 9, 1985
    ...than a seasoned "value judgment upon a factual complex rather than an evident application of a precise rule of law." State v. Funicello, 60 N.J. 60, 72, 286 A.2d 55 (1972) (Chief Justice Weintraub, concurring). This is especially true with regard to investigatory detentions. Our Supreme Cou......
  • U.S. ex rel. Trantino v. Hatrack, No. 76-2018
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • August 24, 1977
    ...omitted). 11 Trantino had been sentenced to death, but he was re-sentenced nunc pro tunc to life imprisonment in State v. Funicello, 60 N.J. 60, 286 A.2d 55 (per curiam), cert. denied, 408 U.S. 942, 92 S.Ct. 2849, 33 L.Ed.2d 766 12 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) reads: (b) An application for a writ of......
  • Smith v. Yeager, No. 17816.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • April 26, 1972
    ...years earlier.11 --------Notes: 1 The New Jersey Supreme Court recently has reaffirmed the efficacy of a non-vult plea. State v. Funicello, 60 N.J. 60, 286 A.2d 55 2 United States ex rel. Davis v. Yeager, 453 F.2d 1001 (3d Cir. 1971), n. 1A, and concurring opinion therein; United States ex ......
  • State of N. J. v. Chesimard, No. 77-1104
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • March 9, 1977
    ..."intrusion" in the state criminal justice system has often been carried on the "we-they", ad hominem level. See, e.g., State v. Funicello, 60 N.J. 60, 69, 286 A.2d 55, 59 (N.J.1972) (Weintraub, J., concurring), cert. denied sub nom. New Jersey v. Presha et al., 408 U.S. 942, 92 S.Ct. 2849, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
76 cases
  • State v. Anderson
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • January 9, 1985
    ...than a seasoned "value judgment upon a factual complex rather than an evident application of a precise rule of law." State v. Funicello, 60 N.J. 60, 72, 286 A.2d 55 (1972) (Chief Justice Weintraub, concurring). This is especially true with regard to investigatory detentions. Our Supreme Cou......
  • U.S. ex rel. Trantino v. Hatrack, No. 76-2018
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • August 24, 1977
    ...omitted). 11 Trantino had been sentenced to death, but he was re-sentenced nunc pro tunc to life imprisonment in State v. Funicello, 60 N.J. 60, 286 A.2d 55 (per curiam), cert. denied, 408 U.S. 942, 92 S.Ct. 2849, 33 L.Ed.2d 766 12 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b) reads: (b) An application for a writ of......
  • Smith v. Yeager, No. 17816.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • April 26, 1972
    ...years earlier.11 --------Notes: 1 The New Jersey Supreme Court recently has reaffirmed the efficacy of a non-vult plea. State v. Funicello, 60 N.J. 60, 286 A.2d 55 2 United States ex rel. Davis v. Yeager, 453 F.2d 1001 (3d Cir. 1971), n. 1A, and concurring opinion therein; United States ex ......
  • State of N. J. v. Chesimard, No. 77-1104
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • March 9, 1977
    ..."intrusion" in the state criminal justice system has often been carried on the "we-they", ad hominem level. See, e.g., State v. Funicello, 60 N.J. 60, 69, 286 A.2d 55, 59 (N.J.1972) (Weintraub, J., concurring), cert. denied sub nom. New Jersey v. Presha et al., 408 U.S. 942, 92 S.Ct. 2849, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT