State v. JM

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Citation182 N.J. 402,866 A.2d 178
Decision Date17 February 2005
PartiesSTATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. J.M., Defendant-Respondent.

866 A.2d 178
182 N.J. 402

STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
J.M., Defendant-Respondent

Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Argued October 12, 2004.

Decided February 17, 2005.


866 A.2d 180
Robert E. Bonpietro, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for appellant (Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney)

Anthony M. Arbore, Ledgewood, argued the cause for respondent (Forster & Arbore, attorneys).

Susan Brody, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for amicus curiae, Office of the Public Defender (Yvonne Smith Segars, Public Defender, attorney).

Justice WALLACE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The primary issue in this appeal is whether a juvenile may present evidence during the probable cause portion of a juvenile waiver hearing. N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-26. The trial court denied the juvenile's request to testify at the probable cause hearing. The Appellate Division reversed. Although we agree with the panel's conclusion that the juvenile may present evidence at the probable cause hearing, we ground our decision not on the constitutional basis found by the panel, but in our authority to control the procedures of our courts. We hereby modify Rule 5:22-2 to expressly permit a juvenile to present evidence at the probable cause hearing. We also hold that pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-26a and the Attorney General's Juvenile Waiver Guidelines, the prosecutor's failure to provide a statement of reasons for seeking waiver requires a remand.

I.

This case arises from an incident on November 28, 2001, at a Mobil gas station in Hackettstown, New Jersey. On that day, seventeen-year-old J.M. (juvenile), and adult codefendants, John Stagg and Mike Torrisi, met at Torrisi's house and discussed robbing the Mobil gas station. Later that evening, Torrisi drove the juvenile and Stagg to the gas station. Torrisi remained in the car as the juvenile and Stagg walked to the side of the station, where they waited about fifteen minutes. At some point, the juvenile entered the attendant's booth and turned off the lights. Stagg found a baseball bat in the booth and used the bat to "take the guy down." The attendant fell to the ground seriously injured. The juvenile removed the money from the cash register and fled to the car. Torrisi drove the others to his house where the three of them divided the money. Most of the activity of the intruders was captured by a security camera at the station that showed Stagg accosted the attendant at 9:57 p.m.

Around 2:30 a.m., Detective Wade Caccese received instructions to investigate the robbery and assault at the Mobile gas station. When Detective Caccese arrived at the station, he observed a lot of blood on the ground and an aluminum baseball bat near one of the gasoline pumps. The detective also learned that the attendant had been taken to the hospital with serious head injuries.

The ensuing investigation led to the juvenile. On December 17, 2001, the juvenile and his mother reported to the police station. In the presence of his mother, the juvenile waived his rights, agreed to give a tape-recorded statement, and admitted his involvement in the robbery. The juvenile stated that the plan called for him to turn the lights out and for Stagg to take care of the attendant. He claimed he had no prior knowledge of a baseball bat in the booth, and had no knowledge that Stagg would strike the attendant with the bat.

866 A.2d 181
The juvenile was charged with offenses that if committed by an adult would constitute first-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; and second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1)

The State filed a timely motion seeking waiver of jurisdiction by the Family Part to the Law Division (adult court). The State, however, failed to include a statement of reasons why it sought waiver.

On January 29, 2002, a Family Part judge held a waiver hearing to determine whether to grant the State's motion. Detective Caccese was the sole witness for the State in its effort to establish probable cause that the juvenile committed the charged offenses. He related the juvenile's involvement in the robbery based on the juvenile's statement. On cross-examination, Detective Caccese testified that neither the juvenile nor Stagg brought a weapon to the gas station and that the plan called for Stagg to punch the attendant, not to strike him with a weapon. The State also offered the juvenile's statement into evidence and played the security videotape from the Mobil station depicting the crime.

Counsel for the juvenile sought to have the juvenile testify to assist the court in determining whether there was probable cause for first-degree robbery and second-degree aggravated assault. Counsel explained that the juvenile would testify concerning his state of mind during the robbery to show that he never intended to use a deadly weapon or to inflict serious bodily injury on the victim, elements necessary for the more serious charges. The Family Part judge denied the request, found probable cause to believe the juvenile committed a first-degree robbery and second-degree aggravated assault, and granted the State's motion to prosecute the juvenile as an adult.

Subsequently, the juvenile entered into a plea agreement and pled guilty to a lesser included second-degree robbery and second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery. For its part of the plea agreement, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining aggravated assault charge and to recommend a custodial sentence of not more than six years. On June 26, 2002, the trial court sentenced the juvenile to six years in prison with an eighty-five percent parole disqualifier pursuant to the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, along with fines and restitution.

The juvenile appealed, challenging the Family Part judge's ruling that prohibited him from testifying at the waiver hearing. In a published opinion, the Appellate Division reversed and remanded to the Family Part for a new waiver hearing. The panel concluded that the juvenile had a right to testify at the probable cause portion of the waiver hearing and that the prosecutor should have provided a statement of reasons for the waiver application. State v. J.M., 364 N.J.Super. 486, 837 A.2d 392 (2003). We granted the State's petition for certification. State v. J.M., 179 N.J. 373, 845 A.2d 1255 (2004). We also granted amicus curiae status to the Office of the Public Defender.

II.

The State argues it established probable cause that the juvenile was sixteen years or older and that he participated in an enumerated offense, thus requiring the trial court to waive him to adult court. The State contends that our decision in State v. R.G.D., 108 N.J. 1, 15-16, 527 A.2d 834, 841 (1987), strongly suggests that the juvenile's right to testify in a waiver hearing does not extend to the determination of probable cause. The State reasons that

866 A.2d 182
because a juvenile probable cause hearing is not intended to determine guilt, there is no reason to permit the juvenile to present evidence concerning his intent at the time of the offense. Consequently, the State urges that the Appellate Division decision unduly interferes with the prosecutorial function by intruding on the decision to seek waiver, and directly contradicts the legislative intent behind the 2000 amendment to vest the prosecutor with the primary responsibility for the waiver hearing. Further, the State asserts that if the juvenile testifies at the probable cause portion of a waiver hearing, the State may be compelled to produce witnesses, resulting in a trial-like presentation that is inappropriate for such a hearing. Finally, the State contends that because the juvenile did not request a statement of reasons for the waiver motion, that issue was not properly raised

The juvenile maintains that the Appellate Division correctly concluded he had a constitutional right to testify at the probable cause hearing. He argues the waiver statute supports his view that it was of paramount importance that he be permitted to present evidence to assist the court in the determination of whether there was probable cause that his participation rose to the level of either first-degree robbery or second-degree aggravated assault. Further, he argues that it was error for the State to file the waiver motion without stating its reasons for seeking waiver.

Amicus joins in the juvenile's arguments and adds that the juvenile's testimony was crucial on the probable cause issue. Further, Amicus contends that the Legislature's amendments to the Code in 2000 left unchanged the statutory provisions that no testimony offered by a juvenile at a waiver hearing "shall be admissible for any purpose in any hearing to determine delinquency or guilt of an offense." Because testimony pertaining to the juvenile's prospects for rehabilitation before the age of nineteen would be unlikely to include admissions as to delinquency or guilt of an offense, Amicus urges that the Legislature must have intended that the statutory immunity applicable to the juvenile's testimony at the waiver hearing apply to testimony the juvenile might give at the probable cause hearing.

III.

Preliminarily, we note that the State claims the juvenile failed to preserve the issue before us through a conditional plea under Rule 3:9-3(f). The State acknowledges, however, that it did not raise that argument before the Appellate Division, but urges nevertheless that appellate courts should apply the rule that a knowing and voluntary guilty plea bars a defendant from raising non-jurisdictional constitutional claims in the proceedings prior to the plea.

We agree that the failure to enter a conditional plea under Rule 3:9-3(f) generally bars appellate review of non-Fourth Amendment constitutional issues. State v. Robinson, 224 N.J.Super. 495, 498, 540 A.2d 1313, 1314 (App.Div.1988). A defendant who...

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18 practice notes
  • State v. J.V., A-95 September Term 2018
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 11, 2020
    ...State's waiver motion so judges could review the prosecution's reasoning in determining whether its decision to seek waiver was arbitrary. 182 N.J. 402, 419, 866 A.2d 178 (2005). Then, in State in Interest of V.A., we directed courts to review for abuse of discretion a prosecutor's decision......
  • State ex rel. Z.S., DOCKET NO. A-3516-19T1
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • August 18, 2020
    ...to waive minors aged sixteen or older to the Criminal Part if they were charged with certain enumerated offenses. J.M., 182 N.J. at 412, 866 A.2d 178. It directed that a 464 N.J.Super. 515 prospect of rehabilitation could not prevent waiver for a juvenile offender over age sixteen if he or ......
  • State v. McArdle, DOCKET NO. A-4485-16T1
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • August 29, 2019
    ...a conditional plea under Rule 3:9-3(f) generally bars appellate review of non-Fourth Amendment constitutional issues." State v. J.M., 182 N.J. 402, 410 (2005). "Our rules provide for three exceptions to the general rule of waiver[,]" none of which apply to the other adverse decisions defend......
  • State v. Cantalupo, DOCKET NO. A-4142-16T2
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • January 8, 2019
    ...that consent from the State and approval from the court were necessary under Rule 3:9-3(f) for a conditional plea. See State v. J.M., 182 N.J. 402, 410 (2005). Since the State was not required to agree to a conditional plea, and the trial court was not required to accept one over the State'......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • State v. J.V., A-95 September Term 2018
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • June 11, 2020
    ...State's waiver motion so judges could review the prosecution's reasoning in determining whether its decision to seek waiver was arbitrary. 182 N.J. 402, 419, 866 A.2d 178 (2005). Then, in State in Interest of V.A., we directed courts to review for abuse of discretion a prosecutor's decision......
  • State ex rel. Z.S., DOCKET NO. A-3516-19T1
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • August 18, 2020
    ...to waive minors aged sixteen or older to the Criminal Part if they were charged with certain enumerated offenses. J.M., 182 N.J. at 412, 866 A.2d 178. It directed that a 464 N.J.Super. 515 prospect of rehabilitation could not prevent waiver for a juvenile offender over age sixteen if he or ......
  • State v. McArdle, DOCKET NO. A-4485-16T1
    • United States
    • Superior Court of New Jersey
    • August 29, 2019
    ...a conditional plea under Rule 3:9-3(f) generally bars appellate review of non-Fourth Amendment constitutional issues." State v. J.M., 182 N.J. 402, 410 (2005). "Our rules provide for three exceptions to the general rule of waiver[,]" none of which apply to the other adverse decisions defend......
  • State v. Cantalupo, DOCKET NO. A-4142-16T2
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • January 8, 2019
    ...that consent from the State and approval from the court were necessary under Rule 3:9-3(f) for a conditional plea. See State v. J.M., 182 N.J. 402, 410 (2005). Since the State was not required to agree to a conditional plea, and the trial court was not required to accept one over the State'......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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