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State v. Sims

New Jersey Appellate Division

January 4, 2021

The Appellate Division dealt with two important constitutional issues in State v. Sims. First, the Court was asked to determine whether police officers were required to inform the defendant of the charges he was arrested for, even if no charges had yet to be formally filed. Relying on the New Jersey Supreme Court’s holdings in State v. A.G.D., 178 N.J. 56 (2003), and State v. Vincenty, 237 N.J. 122 (2019), the Appellate Division held that “[b]ecause defendant did not know that he was under arrest for attempted murder when he waived his rights, the waiver was not made knowingly and intelligently.” The Court ordered that the statement must be suppressed. Second, the Court dealt with a Confrontation Clause issue because the victim invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify at trial. So, the trial court admitted the victim’s prior testimony from a pretrial motion, pursuant to Rule 804(b)(1)(A) (prior testimony of an unavailable witness).  The Appellate Division reversed, holding that the Confrontation Clause was violated because the defendant did not have the opportunity to develop the victim’s testimony by cross-examination at the hearing where the testimony was limited to the scope of an out-of-court identification.

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