LGL-103 Legal Research and Writing Final Assignment
You are an experienced paralegal employed at Stern & Able, 8710 State Street, Hackensack, New Jersey 07601 – one of the most prestigious criminal practice law firms in the State of New Jersey. John Able, Esq., managing partner, has recently been retained by an individual named John Sham for representation in a criminal matter. Able assigns you to the Sham case. You have assisted in the interview of Mr. Sham and have received discovery from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. Our client has posted bail and awaits trial. The facts of the case (as derived from client & witness interviews, grand jury minutes and discovery documents) are as follows:
On October 30, 2019, at approximately 11:20 p.m., Fort Lee Police Detectives Samuel Starsky and David Hutch entered the parking lot of the Stays Inn Motel, located at 2500 Route 4 East, Fort Lee, New Jersey. The detectives allegedly observed a gold colored Honda Accord with Pennsylvania License Plate Number ANF-6592 parked in the hotel parking lot. After passing the vehicle three times, an individual, later identified as John Sham, was observed in the automobile (later it was established that the vehicle was rented by Sham). The vehicle was never moved nor turned on during the entire period of observation by Detectives Starsky and Hutch. At Grand Jury, Detective Starsky also acknowledged that he and Detective Hutch drove through the Stays Inn parking lot three times and that after the third pass around the automobile in which Mr. Sham was seated, parked the car in an adjacent parking lane for further observation. The license plates were run and the vehicle was traced back to a Pennsylvania Avis automobile rental agency. This initial observation lasted approximately 20 minutes.
Shortly after parking the unmarked police car, Detective Starsky then observed another individual, later identified as Stan Macos exit a New York City Yellow Cab, pay the driver and approach the Gold Honda Accord carrying an object (later identified as a backpack). Both Hutch and Starsky then witnessed the trunk pop open and Macos proceed to put his leather backpack into the trunk. It is unclear whether the trunk was activated by Sham still sitting in the front seat or by an automatic opener later found on Macos. After Macos put his backpack in the trunk, Sham exited the motor vehicle, met up with Macos outside the car whereupon both individuals proceeded towards the hotel.
There was no observation of any suspicious activity by either Sham or Macos. The detectives did not see Macos or Sham open the trunk, nor did they have reason to believe whether Defendant Sham had knowledge of the contents of the backpack. The detectives proceeded to drive up to Sham and Macos and began to question them. Mr. Sham and Mr. Macos were prevented from proceeding into the hotel. Neither defendant was advised of their Miranda rights.
Upon further questioning by the officers, Mr. Macos allegedly gave verbal consent to search the car and handed over the keys to Detective Starsky. Sham neither said nor signed anything. No consent to search forms were signed nor were defendants informed that they had the right to refuse a request to search. As Detective Starsky was moving toward the trunk after searching the interior of the car, Mr. Macos allegedly proceeded to flee the scene. Macos was later apprehended by Officer Eric Brown of the Fort Lee Police Department at a nearby gas station after causing quite a traffic commotion on Route 4 East. Sham complied with the detectives’ request to stay put and did not flee the scene as the search was being conducted. Detective Starsky remained at the automobile completed the search which included a search of the vehicle and Macos’ backpack. In the backpack, Starsky located and seized what he believed to be a large quantity of cocaine and marijuana (later test results from the NJ State Police Laboratory verified this belief). Sham and Macos were then arrested, read their Miranda rights and taken into custody at the Fort Lee Police Department Headquarters. They were each charged with possession and possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C: 35-5 and 2C:35-10.
On August 12, 2020, our client, Sham was indicted by Grand Jurors of Bergen County and later pleaded not guilty to the aforementioned charges of the indictment at his arraignment on September 30, 2020. He has posted bond and his movement is restricted. There has been an exchange of discovery and thorough investigation by both the State and the defendants. A pre-trial conference was held before Honorable William C. Lawless, P.J.S.C. on November 9, 2020. A Status conference is currently scheduled for January 10, 2021 at which time our firm will be making a motion on Mr. Sham’s behalf. Trial is set for April 15, 2021. Our firm is preparing to make a motion to have the evidence seized by the officers suppressed.
Mr. Able has instructed you to prepare a memorandum of law (ie. Trial brief) in support of a motion to suppress physical evidence. You are instructed to use the trial brief format as outlined in your legal research and writing text books and handouts (ie. Caption, Introductory Statement, Statement of Facts, Argument, Conclusion, Signature and Date). Certification of Service and Exhibits are not necessary for this project as the Certification will be in your Notice of Motion (which is not required for this project). Judge Lawless has ordered motion briefs to be filed by December 14, 2020 (the beginning of class).
Mr. Able reminds you that this is a Fourth Amendment Search and Seizure issue and that suppression will revolve around whether valid consent to search was obtained from the defendants and whether or not there was probable cause and/or reasonable articulable suspicion to conduct a warrantless search. Our client our course, contends that he did not give consent to search. A thorough project should also investigate the alternatives the police had under the circumstances. Research should start with the Fourth Amendment, existing precedent and other law as it exists in New Jersey. Since this is a constitutional issue and the State of New Jersey’s application of Constitutional principles, some U.S. Supreme Court cases many be relevant and binding. We must win this motion to suppress as successful suppression shall save our client many years in jail. Your brief is vital to the success of this motion.
Break down you research and argument into logical point headings which provide the basis for the courts suppression of the evidence. Do not assume facts not in evidence. If you do assume facts that have not been provided to you, provide a memo of assumptions.
As per Stern and Able firm policy, the assignment must be typewritten and be as “brief” and concise as possible. Each brief/memorandum of law should be no longer than six typewritten pages (double spaced). Of course, proper case citation format also applies.
The case caption is as follows: State of New Jersey v. Stan Macos and John Sham, Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division: Bergen County, Criminal Action, Indictment No.: S-599-19. The law firm’s name, address and phone number should be on the cover sheet and Mr. Able is “on the brief” and the document should be prepared for his signature. This project is a “Brief in Support of Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence.” Do not forget to put you name on the project. Projects must be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
SUBMISSION: One copy of your assignment will be retained by the Paralegal Studies Department and will be kept in your permanent record files. Good Luck.
LGL-103 Legal Research and Writing Final Assignment