What they don't want you to know about the criminal justice system in Sussex County, New Jersey...
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The Motion to Suppress Illegally Obtained Evidence
"In interviews in more than a dozen states, judges, lawyers, legislators, political professionals and experts on the judiciary said the image of impartiality in the courts is a casualty of the new judicial politics."
The April 3, 1997 Motion to Suppress Hearing: Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. Justifies Illegal Search & Seizure Using Wrongful Simple Assault Conviction!
Justification: A warrantless search is permitted when both probable cause and exigent circumstances exist.
Seeking to capitalize on their recent wrongful simple assault conviction, a Motion to Suppress Evidence Hearing was held on April 3, 1997. A thorough reading of the transcript will show how Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. relies heavily on the wrongful simple assault conviction in order to justify the unconstitutional search and seizure that was conducted in the middle of the night on March 14, 1996.
THE COURT: Because it's warrantless search, it switches it over.
This awareness of how things "went down" that Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. refers to in the transcript may warrant further inquiry. He appears to acknowledge awareness that the prosecutors had first supported the version of events that all of the Cassidy's had testified to- specifically, that the police officers had stated that they were acting under the authority of a legal search warrant. A certain degree of complicity does seem to surface when one considers a "totality of the actual circumstances". One can learn the actual "totality of the circumstances" by carefully studying their own documentation and the dates in which they were filed.
Indeed, rather than embark on a search for truth, it appears that Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. will also seek to create the previously non-existent probable cause by relying heavily on the recently acquired wrongful simple assault conviction. Remember, on March 13-14, 1996 Tom was alleged to have "verbally harassed" a victim. There were no allegations of assault at that time as you will even see in the testimony of Newton Police Officer Neil Casey below!
Newton Police Officer Neil Brian Casey on Direct Examination conducted by Assistant Prosecutor Jared L. McDavit:
Question: Sir, I want to direct your attention to March 13th, 1996. That was a Tuesday -- I'm sorry, a Wednesday. Wednesday. In any event, March 13th, 1996, were you on duty at about 11:00 that evening?
Thus far, we can gather from Officer Casey's testimony that "nothing had happened" on the evening of March 13, 1996. We do however, learn that a group of Newton Memorial Hospital employees had gathered to "egg her on"!
At this point Patrolman Neil Casey is being cross-examined by Attorney George Daggett.
Question: Officer Casey, at no time that night Ms. De Genero indicated to you she had spoken to Thomas Cassidy. Isn't that correct? (Referring to the evening of March 13, 1996)
At this point in the record we have seen testimony from Newton Police Officer Neil Casey indicating that Tom had no contact with "the victim" on March 13, 1996. Casey testifies that anything that was said by DeGennaro to him on March 13, 1996 had to do with "something that somebody told her".
Officer Casey also testifies that he checked "No." in a box asking if there was any prior history of domestic violence. When asked why he had checked this, Casey testifies that Natalie DeGennaro had told him this.
Despite Officer Casey's own testimony that indicates that there had been no contact, no prior incidents, etc. on March 13, 1996, we will see below how Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. will justify the illegal search and seizure based upon a wrongful conviction that stemmed from cover charges that were filed March 27, 1996- nearly two weeks after the illegal search and seizure!
Question: The Cassidy home was not the scene of any domestic violence?
Officer Casey's testimony continues recalling where he had now arrived at the Cassidy residence in Stillwater Township- not at the alleged "scene of violence", Newton Hospital. He is questioned about a firearms safe and about Tom's mattress to his bed by Assistant Prosecutor Jared L. McDavit.
Question: Uh-huh. Was it the type of safe that had glass doors or solid doors?
Officer Casey is now cross-examined by Attorney George Daggett:
Question: Okay. Now, you knew that you had in your possession document that served as a search warrant. Isn't that right?
One can see at this point that Officer Casey's testimony appears to be difficult to extract. Officer Casey knows that he and Stillwater Police Officer John Schetting had stated to the Cassidy family that they had in their possession a search warrant to search for and seize weapons when they arrived at the Cassidy home at 1:20 a.m. on March 14, 1996. When one considers the "totality of the actual circumstances", including AP Reed's September 26, 1996 letter admission that a search and seizure had been conducted, it is quite likely that Patrolman Casey has been well schooled by the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office to distance himself from these facts!
Question: Now, when you and Officer Schetting were at the Cassidy home that day, you remember Officer Schetting -- I'm sorry. Do you remember the words being used by you: "We were to seize all weapons in the house"?
At this point below, reference is being made to the search and seizure that had been conducted by Stillwater Officer's Schetting and Fransen on March 15, 1996. Here they are referring to the "consent" that Tom had given after being threatened to have their house "torn apart" again, as was done at 1:20 a.m. on March 14, 1996.
MR. DAGGETT: That's correct, but there's one other fact that Mr. Cassidy asked at that time Patrolman Schetting --I don't offer this -- I want to make sure this can be included in what the Prosecutor's stipulating -- is that Mr. Cassidy asked him: Are you going to turn my house upside down?
At this point, Tom, his father, and his mother testify of how the police had stated that they were at their residence to conduct a search and seizure. The police displayed a document which was alleged to have been a valid search warrant. Recall, that Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Reed acknowledges this fact back on September 26, 1996. The testimony reflects the intrusiveness of the search and seizure that was conducted throughout the house. A search and seizure was conducted. Mattresses to beds had been lifted up in a fruitless quest for guns. Locked footlockers had been opened upon the command of police officers who stated that they were acting under the authority of a valid search warrant. A previously locked Browning firearms safe too was opened upon the orders of police officers acting under what they had stated was a valid search warrant. Several rooms of the house were searched by the officers, yet the Court incredulously finds that the Cassidy's were merely complying with a civil order!
Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. then rules as follows:
THE COURT: The State conceded that the search warrants and temporary restraining order was invalid.
In a nutshell, we can see how Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. has become a facilitator in a conspiracy to deprive Tom and his family of civil rights. He has done this by finding probable cause that had been previously non-existent. He has "latched on" to the wrongful simple assault conviction that stemmed from the cover charges that were filed by Detective Anthony Virga on March 27, 1996. There had not been any probable cause on March 13, 1996. Moreover, there had not been any exigent circumstances. Had there been exigent circumstances, the police would have likely raced to the Cassidy home in Stillwater at 11:00 p.m. on March 13, 1996, rather than wait approximately 2 and a half hours to raid the home at 1:20 a.m. on March 14.
On April 8, 1997 Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. signed the Order denying Tom's motion to suppress evidence that had been illegally obtained. In so doing, Judge Hanifan facilitated a cover up of police and prosecutorial misconduct. Judge Hanifan made this decision knowing that with his rubber stamp of approval, it would be extremely difficult for Tom to prove that the police and prosecutor's had conspired to deprive Tom of his civil rights.