State v. Hodgson

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Citation44 N.J. 151,207 A.2d 542
Docket NumberNo. A--54,A--54
PartiesSTATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Thomas J. HODGSON, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date26 February 1965

Mark F. Hughes, Jr., Newark, for appellant.

Brendan T. Byrne, County Pros. of Essex County, for respondent (Peter Murray, Asst. County Pros., of counsel and on the brief).

The opinion of the court was delivered by


The Appellate Division affirmed the defendant's conviction of robbery (N.J.S. 2A:141--1, N.J.S.A.) while armed (N.J.S. 2A:151--5, N.J.S.A.). He appealed to this Court under R.R. 1:2--1(a).

On October 2, 1959 there was a holdup in Solomon Facher's tavern on Ferry Street, in Newark. At about 1:10 A.M., Facher and three patrons, John Meehan, Chris Eman and Vincent Czerwinski, were the only ones in the tavern when two men came in, drew their guns, and took the contents of the cash register and a metal box containing approximately $2,000 in cash and $3,000 in checks. As they backed out of the tavern they warned that if anyone stuck his head out he would have it 'blown off.' Facher and Meehan followed them out, were fired on, and saw them ride off in a car.

At the trial, Facher, Meehan and Czerwinski testified that the defendant Thomas J. Hodgson was one of the two holdup men. They had identified him in a police lineup several days after the event and their identification testimony at the trial was clear and unequivocal. In addition, the State produced testimony by Jon Catenacci who, after having given a statement that he and the defendant were the holdup men, then gave some testimony to the contrary, and finally testified that he and the defendant, along with a third man, Robert R. Ramberger who was the driver of the getaway car, had perpetrated the crime. Two guns introduced by the State in evidence were identified by Catenacci as the guns used by him and the defendant in the course of their holdup. Ramberger also testified, first denying the crime but ultimately supporting Catenacci's final testimony that Ramberger was in the getaway car while he and the defendant were committing the holdup in the tavern. The State introduced a signed statement by the defendant admitting and describing his participation in the crime. The trial judge found this statement to have been a voluntary one and then submitted it to the jury for consideration along with the other evidence in the case. The defendant testified that the statement was not given voluntarily, that he was not guilty, and that he was at home at the time of the crime. His mother and a friend of hers gave testimony in support of his assertion that he was at home. The jury found the defendant guilty as charged and he was sentenced to a prison term of 10--12 years for the robbery (N.J.S. 2A:141--1, N.J.S.A.) and a consecutive term of 2--3 years because the robbery was committed while he was armed (N.J.S. 2A:151--5, N.J.S.A.).

The defendant contends his arrest was illegal and he was not promptly brought before a magistrate, and that, as a result, the identification testimony by the various witnesses, along with his confession and other evidence, should have been suppressed. This contention was not raised at the trial; indeed at no point during the trial was there any assertion that his arrest was illegal or that his appearance before a magistrate was delayed unduly. The testimony disclosed that the victims of the robbery had described the holdup men to the police, that Catenacci was placed under arrest on October 5, 1959 and that on October 6th at 1:30 A.M. the defendant was arrested at his home. He was immediately taken to East Orange Police Headquarters, at 2:00 A.M. he was taken to Newark Police Headquarters, and he was then transferred to the First Precinct in Newark where he slept and ate. After breakfast on the morning of October 6th, he was returned to Newark Police Headquarters, was placed in a police lineup, and was identified by Facher, Meehan and Czerwinski as one of the holdup men. Later during the same day he was questioned and signed a confession. On October 8th he was brought before a local magistrate for preliminary examination. See R.R. 3:2--3.

On the record before us it cannot be said that the arrest of the defendant was illegal. That the officers, at the time of the arrest, told the defendant that he was being arrested 'on suspicion,' did not indicate that they lacked probable cause for believing that the defendant was a participant in the crime. See State v. Burnett, 42 N.J. 377, 386--388, 201 A.2d 39 (1964); Ralph v. Pepersack, 335 F.2d 128, 132--135 (4 Cir. 1964). They had descriptions of the holdup men, they had already picked up Catenacci who was a friend of the defendant and was on probation following his conviction of breaking and entering, and they then proceeded to arrest the defendant. The Court of Appeals of Maryland recently expressed the view that an arrest under comparable circumstances was legal. See Wilkins v. State, Md., 205 A.2d 593 (Ct.App.1964); cf. Ralph v. Pepersack, supra, 335 F.2d at pp. 132--133; but cf. Beck v. State of Ohio, 379 U.S. 89, 85 S.Ct. 223, 13 L.Ed.2d 142 (1964). In any event, even if the defendant's original arrest was illegal, it would not necessarily follow that the evidence of his identification and the other evidence now complained about would be inadmissible. See State v. Jackson, 43 N.J. 148, 168--170, 203 A.2d 1 (1964).

In Jackson the defendant contended that his arrest was illegal and that therefore the confession obtained from him after his arrest was inadmissible Per se. He relied upon Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (1963), where the Supreme Court dealt with a simultaneous confession which was part and parcel of an unlawful entry and unauthorized arrest. Many state and lower federal court decisions since Wong Sun have rejected the notion that it declared all evidence obtained after illegal arrest to be inadmissible Per se; some of them may be found cited in our opinion in Jackson (43 N.J., at p. 169, 203 A.2d 1); see also United States v. McGavic, 337 F.2d 317 (6 Cir. 1964), petition for cert. filed, 33 U.S.L. Week 3254 (Jan. 26, 1965) (No. 823), and Rogers v. United States, 330 F.2d 535 (5 Cir. 1964). In McGavic, the court found that statements made 2 1/2 hours after the illegal arrest were not contaminated (337 F.2d, at pp. 318--319) and in Rogers, the court found that a statement made 3 hours after the arrest was not so bound up with it as to become tainted within Wong Sun. 330 F.2d., at pp. 540--542.

Wong Sun did not embrace the position of the defendant here that any evidence which would not have been obtained 'but for' the illegal arrest is to be excluded (371 U.S., at p. 488, 83 S.Ct., at 417, 9 L.Ed.2d, at p. 455). And we are satisfied under the facts before us that the link between any illegality in the arrest and the later evidence was so attenuated that it cannot serve to taint the evidence. See Smith v. United States, 324 F.2d 879 (D.C.Cir. 1963), cert. denied, 377 U.S. 954, 84 S.Ct. 1632, 12 L.Ed.2d 498 (1964). Upon the defendant's arrest he was not immediately subjected to any material interrogation. He slept, ate, and was then placed in a police lineup. He was identified in the lineup by the three victims and their identifications were repeated with firmness at the trial. The defendant's contention is that all of their identification testimony must be permanently suppressed because they 'acquired knowledge of the robber's identity due to the lineup during the illegal detention'; a similar contention was summarily rejected in Payne v. United States, 111 U.S.App.D.C. 94, 294 F.2d 723, 727 (D.C.Cir.), cert. denied, 368 U.S. 883, 82 S.Ct. 131, 7 L.Ed.2d 83 (1961), with the remark that such a result would be 'unthinkable.' The delay in bringing the defendant before a local magistrate for preliminary examination did not, under the prevailing New Jersey doctrine, dictate exclusion of the evidence obtained while he was in custody. Although the defendant urges that we abandon our doctrine in favor of the McNabb-Mallory rule ((McNabb v. United States) 318 U.S. 332, 63 S.Ct. 608, 87 L.Ed. 819 (1943); (Mallory v. United States) 354 U.S. 449, 77 S.Ct. 1356, 1 L.Ed.2d 1479 (1957)), we recently declined to do so in Jackson (43 N.J., at pp. 167--168 203 A.2d 1), and even more recently in State v. Johnson 44 N.J. 23, 206 A.2d 877 (1965). Nothing has been presented which would call for a departure at this particular time from the holdings in those cases.

The defendant attacks the trial court's finding that the statement given by him to the police was a voluntary one. The State's evidence was that the defendant was interrogated very briefly by other officers on October 6th and that, when Detective King arrived after 4:00 P.M. he, in the presence of Detective Lissenden, questioned the defendant and asked him whether he would make a statement. When the defendant said he would, questions were submitted which, together with the defendant's answers, were typed by Detective King. The resulting statement was read and signed by the defendant and was notarized. Detective King testified that no promise or threat of any kind nor physical force of any kind was directed towards the defendant to induce him to sign the statement. He denied that the defendant had ever requested of him that he be permitted to talk with his mother or consult with an attorney. Detective Lessenden testified that he was present while Detective King questioned the defendant. He stated that it took about an hour or an hour and one-half, that he saw no force directed toward the defendant, and that the defendant's physical condition was very good although 'his face was red from crying.' Shortly after the defendant had given his statement, he was visited by his mother who saw him 'at the cellblock.' Detective Coppola testified that he was present during the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
39 cases
  • State v. Sugar
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • July 24, 1980
    ...taint, see, e. g., Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, 406 n.12, 97 S.Ct. 1232, 1243 n.12, 51 L.Ed.2d 424 (1977); State v. Hodgson, 44 N.J. 151, 156-157, 207 A.2d 542 (1965), cert. den., 384 U.S. 1021, 86 S.Ct. 1929, 16 L.Ed.2d 1022 (1966); State v. Fenin, 154 N.J.Super. 282, 381 A.2d 364 (Ap......
  • State v. Stefanelli
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • January 10, 1979
    ...of the action", N.J.S.A. 2A:81-12, and was highly "relevant upon the issue of (his) credibility." Evid.R. 20. See State v. Hodgson, 44 N.J. 151, 163, 207 A.2d 542 (1965); United States v. Bryza, 522 F.2d 414, 425 (7 Cir. 1975), Cert. den. 426 U.S. 912, 96 S.Ct. 2237, 48 L.Ed.2d 837 (1976); ......
  • State v. Kelly
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • July 17, 1972
    ...may be submitted to the jury. See Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368, 84 S.Ct. 1774, 12 L.Ed.2d 908 (1964); Cf. State v. Hodgson, 44 N.J. 151, 161, 207 A.2d 542 (1965), cert. denied, 384 U.S. 1021, 86 S.Ct. 1929, 16 L.Ed.2d 1022 (1966). In support of its contention that in the instant matter th......
  • State v. Marshall and Brown-Sidorowicz, P. A.
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals
    • April 14, 1978 request curative action from the court. People v. Shegog, 44 Mich.App.[2 Kan.App.2d 201] 230, 205 N.W.2d 278 (1972); State v. Hodgson, 44 N.J. 151, 207 A.2d 542 (1965); Lowery v. State, 21 Ala.App. 352, 108 So. 351 (1926); Grandbouche v. People, 104 Colo. 175, 89 P.2d 577 Defendants' rel......
  • 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