A state appeals court has overturned a judge’s decision to suppress cocaine seized as evidence from the home of a Glassboro man, ruling that a detective’s failure to immediately present the residents and the judge with paperwork regarding the search was an insufficient reason to exclude evidence from the case.
The defense for Justin K. Dowens, who is charged with possession of cocaine and possession with intent to distribute, did not dispute the officer’s affidavit submitted as the basis for the April 6, 2011 search or a recreation of the inventory of items seized, submitted several months after Dowens’ arrest.
However, the judge who issued the search warrant suppressed nine bags of cocaine seized as evidence, ruling on May 21, 2012 that the detective had not complied “with the standards and procedures in the execution of that warrant.”
As for any delay in presenting the warrant and inventory to the occupants of the Dowens residence, “the technical violations which occurred here are ministerial missteps that we have previously rejected as a basis to invalidate an otherwise valid search warrant,” the appeals court said in reversing the suppression.
In a brief seeking to overturn the suppression, Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Alec Gutierrez argued that “the more appropriate procedure” would be for the court to determine through a hearing “whether or not the defendant was prejudiced” by not receiving a copy of the warrant and inventory.