State v. Yasin Simms, decided March 15, 2016 by New Jersey Supreme Court.
In this case the prosecutor presented the testimony of Detective Lockett of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office as an expert “in the field of narcotics use and distribution as well as the accompanying aspects of narcotics distribution.”
At trial the prosecutor posed a lengthy hypothetical question to the detective which included the assumed fact that Detective Ruzzo actually observed defendant hand a buyer ten packets of heroin for cash. That assumed fact, however, was not based on Ruzzo’s testimony, because the detective observed only an unidentified object in defendant’s hands.
The expert also testified that the co-defendant conspired with defendant to distribute drugs, which was another way of saying that defendant conspired with the co-defendant. Defendant did not object to the hypothetical question or to the response, and he did not present any witnesses.
The jury convicted defendant of possession of heroin, possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, however, the New Jersey Court reversed holding that well established case law holds that ultimate questions of guilt or innocence is for the jury to decide and not the state’s so-called expert. Furthermore, it was impermissible for the so-called expert to testify to facts, i.e., that the detective saw Heroin being transferred since this was not a fact that was even in evidence.
In defending a CDS/narcotics case it is important to know what evidence offered by the prosecutor is objectionable. An experienced criminal defense attorney would have known that this type of testimony is inadmissible.
If you are charged with a narcotics, CDS or other drug related offense you must consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. Attorney Sanzone has been practicing criminal law and defending against narcotics offenses for 26-years.
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.277 North Broad Street, (Union County) Elizabeth, N.J