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The Suppression Briefs
"It is axiomatic that the physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed. And a principle protection against unnecessary intrusions into private dwellings is the warrant requirement imposed by the Fourth Amendment on agents of the government who seek to enter the home for purposes of search or arrest."
-Welsh v. Wisconsin[N.1]

Letter Written by SCPO AP Thomas J. Reed Acknowledges that a Search & Seizure had been Conducted:

In a letter written to Attorney George Daggett dated September 26, 1996, Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas J. Reed indicates that the March 14, 1996 search and seizure was conducted pursuant to a warrant. Reed directs Daggett's attention to page two of the temporary restraining order which states: "This order shall serve as a warrant to search for and seize weapons as follows: You are hereby commanded to search the premises.."

Indeed, this is the section that the police officers had displayed to the Cassidy's and relied upon in the early morning hours of March 14, 1996. The officers stated that they were at the house to conduct a search and seizure. The officers did just that in their searching throughout the house and seizing firearms. In this very same letter, Assistant Prosecutor Reed asks Daggett if there is some misunderstanding regarding the "nature of the search". In reading this document, you can see that on September 26, 1996 Assistant Prosecutor Reed is acknowledging that the officers had conducted a search and seizure within the Cassidy home in the middle of the night.

"No one seems to be interested in changing anything."
-Newton Police Detective Anthony Virga
Assistant Prosecutor Reed relies on the rationale that the police were in possession of a legal search warrant because he knows that warrantless searches are presumed to be unreasonable. He knows that searches and seizures that are conducted at 1:20 a.m.- in the middle of the night- are unreasonable. He also knows that individuals have a high expectation of privacy in a residence. Despite this knowledge, you will see how the Sussex County Justice officials will now manipulate the criminal justice system in order to justify an illegal search and seizure. They will even go so far as to unscrupulously secure a wrongful conviction in their grasping for this justification.

Another suspect comment appears in a facsimile transmission that Newton Police Detective Anthony Virga had sent to Assistant Prosecutor Thomas J. Reed on October 9, 1996. In this message Virga hand writes "No one seems to be interested in changing anything". What did you mean by this Tony? Was it your intent to alter documents to facilitate your charade of cover charges? Were you and members of the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office conspiring to deprive Tom of his civil rights?

"The Judge shall state with specificity the reasons for and scope of the search and seizure authorized by the Order. None of that appears to have been done in this case."
-Attorney George Daggett[N.2]

Attorney George Daggett's Brief:

On November 12, 1996 Attorney George Daggett submits a letter brief on behalf of Thomas Cassidy in support of a motion to suppress evidence. In this brief, Daggett points out that on March 14, 1996- the date of the search and seizure- Tom was being accused of "verbally harassing the victim". On the document, the box indicating "harassment" was checked off by officer Neil Casey. Moreover, Casey had also checked off the box indicating that there were no prior acts of violence. When questioned under oath about this, Casey stated that he checked this box because that is what Degennaro-Holley had told him.

To date, the only "verbal harassment" that we have found appears to be where Tony D'Avino, a 79-year-old Newton Memorial Hospital security guard, had told Natalie DeGennaro-Holley to "be careful". That particular statement made by D'Avino appears to have been the catalyst that resulted in an illegal search and seizure a few hours later.

It would appear then that D'Avino had told DeGennaro-Holley to "be careful", DeGennaro-Holley tells Newton Police officers Leo Beshada and Neil Casey- all at Newton Memorial Hospital-, and then, a few hours later Newton Police Officer Neil Casey and Stillwater Police Officer John Schetting are conducting an illegal search and seizure at a private residence in Stillwater Township!

Paragraph 5 of the domestic violence complaint states "If law enforcement officials responded to the scene, were weapons seized?" The officer's checked the box "Yes". The scene of "violence"- a 79-year-old security guards triple hearsay statements- in this case was alleged to have been Newton Memorial Hospital. Yet despite this, the officers embarked on an 8 mile trek into the Township of Stillwater to conduct an illegal midnight search and seizure! Given this scenario, it is no small wonder then, how Sussex County Justice officials have embarked upon one major cover up!

Reed Says Interesting Points Are Raised:

"The defendant raises some interesting points about procedure and the issuance of such orders. And, the problems he raises probably apply on a state wide basis."
-Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Tom Reed
On November 20, 1996 Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas J. Reed sent a memorandum to his colleagues within the Prosecutor's Office. In his memorandum, Reed states that the points raised in defense of Thomas Cassidy are interesting and may be problematic on a state wide basis. This comment is noteworthy in that it demonstrates why officials will go to extraordinary lengths to cover up their unconstitutional conduct. Let us assure you, domestic violence is a business in Sussex County! These people make a great deal of money off of this business. They will go to great lengths to protect their "cut" in it! Moreover, the domestic violence laws are used as a mechanism to indirectly regulate something much more greatly despised in the State of New Jersey- Firearms! This is unfortunate in that the State has a greater interest in indirectly regulating guns than in assisting actual victims of domestic violence.

Recognizing that the Cassidy case raises interesting points that may apply on a state wide basis, the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office will now embark on an organized plan to lock Tom into the fabricated cover charges that will assist them in covering up police illegality.

Newton Police Department Captain Says We Will Lose Cassidy Case!

On November 22, 1996 Captain John Tomasula of the Newton Police Department stated to Ann Rosellen, a clerk at the Newton Municipal Building, that "we don't have the tape on the Cassidy case and without it we’re going to lose the case and all those guns." Apparently, Tomasula did not realize the extraordinary lengths to which the Sussex County Justice officials would go in order to secure a wrongful conviction and deprive citizens of their civil rights and civil liberties!

"The warrantless search of a private residence strikes at the heart of the Fourth Amendment's protections. The right of officers to thrust themselves into a home is...a grave concern, not only to the individual but to a society which chooses to dwell in reasonable security and freedom from surveillance."
-United States v. Erickson[N.3]

SCPO AP Thomas J. Reed Brief Now Says No Search Occurred!

On December 24, 1996 Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas J. Reed filed a letter memo in opposition to Thomas A. Cassidy's motion to suppress. In this brief, Reed introduces the "cover charges" against Cassidy that were filed two weeks after the unconstitutional search and seizure. The introduction of these fictitious charges would evince emotion from the most hardened of hearts. But much more importantly- he seeks justification for the unconstitutional search and seizure. He creates the previously non-existent probable cause that is needed to conduct a search and seizure. Remember, the probable cause at the time of the search was alleged to have been "verbal harassment"- the triple hearsay statements originating from a 79-year-old security guard!

On page four of Assistant Prosecutor Reed's brief, he now concedes that none of the requirements of a search warrant had been adhered to. Indeed, there is no evidence that the officers had even contacted a judge, as is required in order to secure a legal search warrant. Reed now acknowledges that the officers had in fact conducted a warrantless search and seizure. Yet he seeks to justify these actions as follows:

  1. One is that the defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his possession of the firearms.

  2. Another is that the seizure was justified under the Public Caretaking/Emergency Aid Doctrine.

Here we see extremely frightening rationale in operation. From this brief, we can gather that it must be the position of the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office that those citizens who choose to exercise their Second Amendment right to own firearms must somehow forfeit their Fourth Amendment rights of privacy!

A unanimous United States Supreme Court rejects Assistant Prosecutor Reed's flawed reasoning above. Justice Ginsburg addresses this particular argument in the case of Florida v. J.L.[N.4]. Justice Ginsburg states that " automatic firearm exception to our established reliability analysis would rove too far. Such an exception would enable any person seeking to harass another to set in motion an intrusive, embarrassing police search of the targeted person simply by placing an anonymous call falsely reporting the target's unlawful carriage of a gun." In other words, citizens who own firearms do not forfeit their Fourth Amendment rights as Mr. Reed has suggested. Indeed, University of Iowa law professor James Tomkovicz stated that "the court's unanimity can be explained by the fact that "this was an extreme claim: that when someone says the magic word 'firearm,' the protection of the Fourth Amendment disappears."[N.5] Well, unanimous U.S. Supreme Court and Professor Tomkovicz, such extreme claims are the rule of law in Sussex County, New Jersey!

Assistant Prosecutor Reed now seeks justification for the illegal search and seizure by discussing the search and seizure "in the context of domestic violence". Earlier, in his letter dated September 26, 1996, Reed indicated that the search was conducted lawfully in accordance with the provisions of a legal search warrant. Now, however, he pins his arguments "in the context of domestic violence".

Here we can see how Sussex County Justice officials now try to justify the illegal search and seizure through the application of domestic violence laws. We see how important it will now become to portray an act of "domestic violence" when in fact there had been none. Domestic violence will become the "Ace in the Hole" for the Sussex County Justice officials in an attempt to justify their illegal conduct that subjects them to liability under civil rights laws. Indeed, it is Reed's colleague, Assistant Prosecutor Vincent J. Connors, Jr. who will wrongfully convict Thomas Cassidy on February 4, 1997 in order to create the probable cause that was previously non-existent on March 14, 1996. And it is Judge N. Peter Conforti, J.S.C. who will ratify and sanction this disturbingly egregious conduct.

It was on February 4, 1997 that Tom was wrongfully convicted of simple assault by Judge N. Peter Conforti, J.S.C. At the time, it seemed odd that the simple assault trial was being held preceding to the motion to suppress hearing. Yet after Tom's disorderly person complaint was wrongfully dismissed by Assistant Prosecutor Vincent J. Connors, Jr. it all made very much sense. The wrongful conviction was necessary in order to attempt to justify the illegal search and seizure. With the wrongful conviction in place, the Sussex County Justice officials had indeed created their probable cause. The cover up was in place and the wrongful conviction only bolstered their conspiratorial actions.

SCPO AP Jared L. McDavit's Files Supplemental Brief after a Wrongful Conviction had been Attained:

Subsequent to the February 4, 1997 wrongful conviction for simple assault, Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Jared L. McDavit submitted an additional argument in opposition to Tom's motion to suppress evidence. He filed this additional argument on March 21, 1997 while the train to simple assault and wrongful conviction had long since gained its necessary momentum.

From this brief we learn that Assistant Prosecutor McDavit is now seeking to capitalize on the recently acquired wrongful conviction. Specifically, his supplemental letter brief in opposition to the motion to suppress seeks to attain a "back door" to the previously asserted exigent circumstances/community caretaking doctrine. In doing so he even tries to imply consent! Yeah right, can you imagine a family be awakened at 1:20 a.m. by a forcible banging on the front door, responding to the front door in pajamas, and then inviting the officers in for coffee and doughnuts? Of course not.

Knowing that they now had a wrongful conviction to rely on, Assistant Prosecutor McDavit implies in his brief that Tom had simply "voluntarily complied with a statutorily authorized temporary restraining order". What he now appears to be doing is distancing himself from any constitutional arguments that the State had initially asserted. He now tries to mitigate the unconstitutional search and seizure by stating that Tom and his parents were merely complying with domestic violence laws!

Indeed, McDavit now argues that "In the State's view, no search occurred. There was no peering under beds, rummaging through closets and drawers or prying into hidden spaces". Yet in fact, the police had conducted a search and a seizure. They had searched through a previously locked Browning safe, a previously locked footlocker, under mattresses that were lifted up so that officers could search, and throughout several rooms within the household. Yet the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office now takes the position that no search occurred.

The Sussex County Prosecutor's Office now argues that New Jersey Domestic Violence law supercedes our United States Constitution, specifically, the Fourth Amendment. This argument too must fail in that domestic violence laws do not take precedence over our sacred constitutional rights. It must also fail in that none of the provisions of New Jersey Domestic Violence laws had even been adhered to either!

What we can see, however, is how important it has become for Sussex County Justice officials to create domestic violence when there had been none. To file cover charges to cover up the unconstitutional search and seizure. To create the probable cause that had previously been non-existent. Pay close attention to the documentation and you will see how Sussex County Justice officials have conspired to deprive Tom and his parents of their civil rights.

1 Welsh v. Wisconsin, 466 U.S. 740, 748 (1984).
2 Attorney George Daggett, Letter Brief filed November 12, 1996.
3 United States v. Erickson, 991 F. 2d 529, 532 (9th Cir. 1993).
4 Florida v. J. L., No. 98-1993, Decided March 28, 2000.
5 Greenhouse, L. (2000, March 29). Justices Curb Reach of Anonymous Tips on Guns. The New York Times.

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