Monday, May 23, 2011

The State’s Proffer Without the Supporting Documents to Support Forensic Examination Insufficient to Trigger Defense Counsel’s Period to Object

May 17, 2011, the Appellate Division in State v. Heisler held that the period in which defense counsel must object to a laboratory certificate is tolled until such time as defense counsel receives all supporting documents in connection with the lab certificate.

The Comprehensive Drug Reform Act, as found in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-19 requires that the State provide a lab certificate along with all supporting documents before said certificate can be admitted into evidence without objection. If defense counsel objects within 10 dates of receipt of the certificate and the reasons for said objection, the State must produce the testimony of the lab technician who performed the specific forensic tests. However, the 10 day period does not begin to run until the defense receives not only the lab certificate but the supporting test documents, which includes but not limited to, all the reports relating to the analysis.

The Court correctly ruled that it is impossible for defense counsel to competently decide whether to object to the certificate until such time as the underlying accompanying data is received by defense counsel.

If the data is not disclosed, defense counsel’s obligation to object is never triggered, and hence, the report does not come into evidence. This case seems to hold that even if no objection is made by defense counsel the lab report does not come into evidence until the State satisfies all the requirements of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-19.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq. 277 N. Broad Street, Elizabeth, NJ, (908) 354-7006

Dated: May 23, 2011

No comments: