General Anne Milgram has filed a letter brief
with the New Jersey Supreme Court urging the
Court to postpone application of its Feb.
25 holding regarding police searches of vehicles
in State v. Pena-Flores and State
v. Fuller until a statewide telephonic
warrant system is implemented. The letter
brief explains that, without such action,
the State will be left with a “Hobson’s
choice” when there is probable cause
to search a vehicle for evidence of a crime:
“whether to routinely impound vehicles
and detain suspects for lengthy periods of
time or whether to stop effectively policing
letter brief states that diminished policing
is an “entirely unacceptable alternative.”
At the same time, it notes that the Court’s
newly adopted exigency analysis leaves law
enforcement officers uncertain as to when
a warrant is required to search a motor vehicle.
“Until telephonic warrants are a
realistic possibility,” the letter
explains, “the result will be increased
burdens on law enforcement officers, judges,
motorists and occupants” as more
vehicles are impounded and suspects detained
while a warrant is secured.
Attorney General requests that the Court postpone
implementation of its holding while at the
same time moving as expeditiously as possible
toward implementing a statewide telephonic
warrant system in which officers could obtain
warrants from judges remotely by telephone.
The letter brief acknowledges that there are
a number of practical and logistical issues
that require resolution before such a system
is in place.
A copy of the letter brief is posted with
this release on the Attorney General’s
Web site at www.njpublicsafety.com.