On May 19, 2009, the Appellate Division decided State of New Jersey v. Yusef Gethers, Docket No.: A-5323-06T4. By way of background, on March 24, 2005, a Union County grand jury returned an indictment charging Defendant, Yusef Gethers, with second-degree certain persons not to possess a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b)(1). On the same date, a Union County grand jury returned an indictment charging Defendant with third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, a handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count one), and fourth-degree possession of a prohibited device, hollow point bullets, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f). 

Following denial of his motion to suppress evidence, Defendant pled guilty to count one of the indictment, third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon. Pursuant to a plea bargain reached with the State, Defendant was sentence to five (5) years probation, conditioned upon 364 days of house arrest. The trial court dismissed the remaining charges under the indictments as well as an outstanding municipal court warrant. The trial court also imposed the appropriate fees and penalties. Thereafter, this appeal ensued when Defendant appealed the suppression ruling.

In this case, the Appellate Division determined the motion to suppress evidence obtained in a vehicular search, specifically, a gun found in a backpack not in plain view, was improperly denied by the trial judge. The Court found the State did not carry its burden of demonstrating a recognized exception to the warrant requirement where: (1) both occupants were outside the car and did not have access to the backpack; (2) there was no possibility they would leave the area; (3) the officers’ conduct did not indicate a belief the occupants were armed and dangerous; (4) there was no evidence of accomplices who might have come onto the scene or other persons who had access to the car destroying or disposing of the evidence or moving the car; (5) the car was parked in a residential driveway so there was no issue of traffic obstruction; (6) the ratio of officers to suspects was 4-to-2; and (7) the Defendant was in a wheelchair. Consequently, the Court reversed the trial judge’s ruling and remanded the case back to the trial court.

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Photo of Donald C. Barbati Donald C. Barbati

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues…

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues litigated before the courts and administrative tribunals throughout the State of New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Barbati also routinely represents individuals in various types of public pension appeals, real estate transactions, and general litigation matters. He is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog, a free legal publication designed to keep New Jersey public safety officers up-to-date and informed about legal issues pertinent to their profession. During his years of practice, Mr. Barbati has established a reputation for achieving favorable results for his clients in a cost-efficient manner.

Mr. Barbati has also handled numerous novel legal issues while representing New Jersey Public Safety Officers. Most notably, he served as lead counsel for the Appellants in the published case In re Rodriguez, 423 N.J. Super. 440 (App. Div. 2011). In that case, Mr. Barbati successfully argued on behalf of the Appellants, thereby overturning the Attorney General’s denial of counsel to two prison guards in a civil rights suit arising from an inmate assault. In the process, the Court clarified the standard to be utilized by the Attorney General in assessing whether a public employee is entitled to legal representation and mandated that reliance must be placed on up-to-date information.

Prior to becoming a practicing attorney, Mr. Barbati served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer Vicinage. During his clerkship Mr. Barbati handled numerous complex and novel substantive and procedural issues arising from complaints in lieu of prerogative writs, orders to show cause, and motion practice. These include appeals from decisions by planning and zoning boards and local government bodies, bidding challenges under the Local Public Contract Law, Open Public Records Act requests, the taking of private property under the eminent domain statute, and election law disputes. In addition, Mr. Barbati, as a certified mediator, mediated many small claims disputes in the Special Civil Part.

Mr. Barbati received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Upon graduating, Mr. Barbati attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2007, he received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top five percent of his class. During law school, Mr. Barbati interned for the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, assisting on various constitutional, employment, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals litigation, including numerous civil rights, social security, and immigration cases.