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NJ Drug Conviction Affirmed on Lab Certificate Issue


by in Drug Defense

State v. Davinder S. Manani, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-6047-08T4 (December 23, 2010) – Conviction for possession of CDS reversed. “Contrary to the statutory requirements of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-19c, the State produced on the first day of trial a … laboratory certificate that confirmed marijuana was found in defendant’s car. As a result, defendant was denied his opportunity to cross-examine the technician who prepared the report…. N.J.S.A. 2C:35-19c allows a defendant to invoke his right to confront a lab technician when the ‘composition, quality, or quantity of the substance submitted to the laboratory for analysis will be contested at trial.’… Confrontation Clause problem[s] may be avoided only by the utilization of a statute that authorizes a pretrial determination regarding the use of a laboratory certificate. An expansive view — or disregard – of the statute’s time frame generates the very problems the statute otherwise avoids. The time limitations in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-19c ‘shall not be relaxed except upon a showing of good cause.’ From the record on appeal, we discern no basis to relax the time limitations contained within the statute.”






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