State v. Zadroga

The New Jersey Appellate Division waded into a difficult double jeopardy issue after a trial court declared a mistrial. The State alleged that the defendant drove 80 mph while intoxicated in a 25 mph zone, causing a collision that killed his passenger. Mid-trial, a testifying hospital nurse identified an inconsistency in the lab results. That disclosure, in turn, revealed the State had inadvertently misattributed the blood sample of a deceased hospital patient to the defendant. In addition, it came to light that the defendant’s blood sample had been lost. The Appellate Division ruled that the mistakes were not sufficiently outrageous to bar the State from proceeding with portions of the charges not dependent on the defendant’s BAC level or proof of intoxication. The Court remanded for a new grand jury presentment but forbade the State from offering proof that the defendant was under the influence at the time of the collision.

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