Scales- Tilted in favor of Sussex County Justice System Sussex County
What they don't want you to know about the criminal justice system in Sussex County, New Jersey...
New!  Justice Hall of Shame

We DO NOT Support the Stilwater Police!  Click here to learn more.
SCJ Home
Search & Seizure
Assault Weapons
Suppression Briefs
Suppression Motion
Exclusionary Rule
The Trial
Cover Charges
On the Train to Simple Assault
Sentence Served
Hindered Appeal
Conspiracy to Deprive of Civil Rights
NJ Department of Corrections
Case Chronology
SCJ Bookstore
About Tom

New! Visit the
The SCJ Bookstore
SCJ Bookstore

In association with ®
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."
-William Glaberson[N.1]

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.

Definition: Examples of exigent circumstances include hot pursuit, a fleeing suspect, destruction of evidence, or other situations in which speed is essential.
-Search & Seizure Checklists[N.2]

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.

Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C.
Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C.
It is quite frightening to learn that Judge Gerald B. Hanifan, J.S.C. abandons his role as a neutral and detached magistrate in order to facilitate a malicious prosecution. He does this by acting as a "rubber stamp" for police misconduct. The testimony that is borne out indicates no evidence of any judicial officer being contacted on March 13-14, 1996. There is simply the testimony of Officer Casey who says that he contacted Newton Municipal Court Judge John Mulhern. Aside from this officer's testimony, there is no independent corroborating evidence to indicate that any Judge was ever contacted! Therefore, we can only conclude that Judge Gerald B. Hanifan is the official "rubber stamp" of the Newton Police Department. If the police say they contacted the Judge it must be true!

THE COURT: Because it's warrantless search, it switches it over.

MR. MC DAVIT: Yes, Judge. We conceded in the letter memorandum that was filed by Mr. Reed, this cannot be characterized as a warrantless search.

THE COURT: I understand that. As I said, he's the applicant but it now -- because it's a warrantless, you got it,

MR. DAGGETT: Well, I think first of all, I just - I know this is oversight by the Prosecutor, but if you look at chronology, I filed the first brief because at that point --

THE COURT: It was.

MR. DAGGETT: Right. Then after I filed the first brief, Mr. --

THE COURT: Then Reed said it wasn't.


MR. MC DAVIT: I stand corrected, Mr. Daggett's correct.

THE COURT: I'm aware of how it went down.

MR. DAGGETT: It was not a valid search warrant. It was not a valid T.R.O., it was not a valid piece of paper that they held in their hands.

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?

Answer: Yes, I was.

Question: Did she say that anything had happened that evening with regard to her relationship to Mr. Cassidy that caused her to call the Newton Police Department?

Answer: I don't think anything happened that evening.

Question: Was there anyone else present besides Miss De Genero and you and Patrolman Beshada as you were having this conversation with Miss De Genero?

Answer: Yeah, there was other hospital employees there.

Question: And, what appeared to be the purpose for them - for them being present?

Answer: I guess they were egging her on,

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)

Answer: Correct.

Question: Anything she was telling you had to do with something that somebody told her?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Okay. So it's clear that she never spoke to Thomas Cassidy that night?

Answer: That night, no.

Question: So when you says-when it says: Any prior history of domestic violence? You check: no. Isn't that right?

Answer: Right.

Question: Okay. And he told you to do that?

Answer: No, I asked the defendant -- the plaintiff, Natalie, if there was any history between her. She said no.

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?

Answer: No.

Question: You describe the domestic violence but was verbally harassing the victim. Isn't that right?

Answer: Yes.

Question: But yet she had never spoken to Mr. Cassidy that night or the night before. Isn't that right?

Answer: Correct.

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?

Answer: No, it was a solid door.

Question: Did you look under any mattresses?

Answer: Yes. Mr. Cassidy showed us the mattress.

Question: And where was the mattress?

Answer: His bedroom.

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?

Answer: It served as seizure to possess -- to obtain weapons.

Question: Does it say search warrant, too?

Answer: Yes.

Question: All right.

Answer: Search and seize, yes, search and seizure of the weapons.

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"?

Answer: I believe something to that effect.

Question: Do you remember a footlocker being in the Mr. Cassidy room?

Answer: Um, is that the first -- Cassidy's room?

Question: Yes.

Answer: Yeah, there was a footlocker there.

Question: Did he search that?

Answer: He opened it up.

Question: You asked him to, didn't you?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Okay.

Answer: I believe so.

Question: And you wanted to check in there, see if there were any guns, right?

Answer: Correct.

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?

MR. MC DAVIT: Judge, there is a statement to that effect in Patrolman Schetting's report.

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.

The State must establish that probable cause for the order existed and that exigent circumstances excused its failure to obtain a valid search warrant.

So it appears to me that domestic violence law rather than the law governing execution of search warrants guided the actions of the police officers on the 14th. And on the second time, which is the 15th or 16th, whenever we determine the seizure of the magazines occurred.

Now, the officer had probable cause to believe an act of domestic violence occurred based on the totality of the circumstances starting with the assault that occurred somewhere around February 15th, 1997.(sic) (Emphasis added.)

This Court notes that the police already had sufficient cause to believe that Mr. Cassidy had several weapons in the house because of evidence obtained from Natalie De Genero.

Under the circumstances, I do not believe the normal rules of search and seizure apply, but the seizure law requirements of 2C:25-18, et seq. do apply,

And, when the police officers came, he said he was still in shock, but it was a day or two later. I kind of find out (sic) a little difficult to believe.

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.

1 Glaberson, W. (2000, June 5). Fierce Campaigns Signal a New Era for State Courts. The New York Times.
2 Hermann, M. (1997). Search & Seizure Checklists, Deerfield, IL: Clark, Boardman, Callaghan.

SCJ Home | Search & Seizure | "Assault Weapons" | Suppression Briefs | Suppression Motion | Exclusionary Rule | The Trial | Cover Charges | On the Train to Simple Assault | The Sentence Served | The Hindered Appeal | Conspiracy to Deprive of Civil Rights |
NJ Department of Corrections | Case Chronology | SCJ Bookstore | About Tom |

Contact us at:
Copyright © 2000-2007, Thomas A. Cassidy, All Rights Reserved.