The following is a letter that was sent to all potentially affected individuals who were arrested for or convicted of drunk driving between 2008 and 2016 in Somerset County. The State Police Sergeant mentioned below also calibrated Alcotest machines that were in use in Somerset County during the aforementioned relevant time frame.
UPDATE: June 13, 2018 - The parties have filed briefs with the State Supreme Court and oral argument will most likely be held in September.
UPDATE: May 4, 2018 - Honorable Joseph F. Lisa, P.J.A.D. Special Master – DECISION.
The hearing was held in January, and written summations were submitted to Judge Joseph Lisa, Special Master. At this time we are awaiting the Judge's decision.
The final Case Management Conference was held on 11/2/17. Judge Lisa granted the State’s motion and ordered a “Stay of proceedings in other courts that raise issues potentially affected by the Supreme Court’s ultimate determination in this matter, i.e. a DWI prosecution in which a BAC reading derived afrom an Alcotest device calibrated by coordinator Marc Dennis….” The stay also applies to sentences for DWI convictions or driving while suspended cases, as well as cases where a DWI conviction in a Dennis case constitutes a predicate offense to enhance the gradation or applicable punishment in a subsequent prosecution for another charge. Cases in counties other than the affected counties may be impacted by this stay order. For example, if a second DWI offense is committed in a county that is not an affected county, but the first DWI conviction/offense was committed in an affected county and is a Dennis case, the second DWI case should be stayed unless the defendant expressly waives the right to the stay.
Judge Lisa ordered the State v. Eileen Cassidy hearing to begin on December 4, 2017. The court is blocking four days a week through December 21, for testimony from the State’s expert witnesses. The defense will start its case on January 8, 2018. The hearings will take place in the old courthouse in Burlington County.
The next case management conference is on November 2, 2017. The Special Master has indicated that he would like to start the hearing on November 28, 2017. Defense counsel has requested a later start date, but as of now the Special Master wants to start on November 28th.
Court records indicate that you were arrested for and/or convicted of drunk driving sometime between 2008 and 2016. This letter is to inform you that it is possible there may have been an issue in the proceedings in your DWI case.
Specifically, it has been alleged that on or about October 6, 2015, and on or about October 7, 2015, New Jersey State Police Sergeant Marc Dennis, a former coordinator in the Alcohol Drug Testing Unit, calibrated the Alcotest 7110 MKIII-C (“Alcotest”) evidential breath testing instruments in the City of Asbury Park, the City of Long Branch, and the Township of Marlboro, without following the established protocol and then certified that the calibration was done in accordance with the required procedures. Sergeant Dennis’s alleged false swearing and improper calibrations of these three instruments may call into question all of the calibrations performed by Sergeant Dennis over the course of his career as a coordinator (i.e. 2008 - 2016), and might possibly entitle you to future relief.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has assigned the Honorable Joseph Lisa, P.J.A.D. (retired and t/a on recall) to preside over a hearing to determine whether Sergeant Dennis’s failure to perform a specific step in the established protocol adversely affected the scientific reliability of the calibrations he performed, as well as any evidential breath tests conducted on those Alcotest instruments. The outcome of these legal proceedings, which are now underway, will determine whether you are entitled to future relief.
If you believe that you are presently suffering any adverse consequences from your DWI conviction or pending DWI case, you should consult an attorney to determine if you are entitled to emergent, immediate relief. When the above-noted hearing is completed, Judge Lisa will determine whether Sergeant Dennis’s failure to perform the specific step in the established protocol adversely affected the scientific reliability of the calibrations he performed. If the Judge decides that it did have such an affect, he will also determine whether you are entitled to relief therefrom.
Updates concerning the Alcotest litigation mentioned above will be available on the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office website at www.scpo.net under the heading Alcotest Litigation. Please check that website for the most current status of that litigation as you will not receive any additional letters about that litigation from this office.
Very truly yours,
Thomas J. Chirichella
First Assistant Prosecutor