Police Accountability Project of the
New Jersey Libertarian Party

December 14, 2021

Lyndhurst Police Department
Attn: Internal Affairs Unit
367 Valley Brook Avenue
Lyndhurst, NJ 07071

RE: Officer Paul F. Haggerty and Lieutenant Michael Carrino

Dear Sir or Madam:

I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party’s Police Accountability Project and ask that you accept this letter as our Internal Affairs complaint. We would like your agency to investigate the actions of Officer Haggerty and Lieutenant Carrino regarding a September 21, 2015 motor vehicle stop and subsequent consent search of a motor vehicle. The search resulted in the discovery of over a half pound of cocaine in a bag inside a closed toolbox in the trunk of Orlando Hernandez’s vehicle and Hernandez was ultimately charged, convicted by a jury and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment with ten years of parole ineligibility.

According to a December 14, 2021 Appellate Division opinion (on-line here), a police dog alerted “to the possibility of the presence of narcotics [in Hernandez’s vehicle] by scratching at the front passenger-side bumper . . . and at the seam between the driver’s door and the rear passenger’s door.” When Haggerty asked Hernandez to consent to a search of his vehicle, Hernandez told him that he consented to a search of only the areas of the vehicle “where the dog hit.” Haggerty told Hernandez that he could not limit the scope of the search and that any consent had to be of “the entire vehicle and every compartment within, not just where the dog hit.”

The Appellate Division, cited a 1991 U.S. Supreme Court case that held that “a suspect may of course delimit as he chooses the scope of the search to which he consents.” The Appellate Division went on to say that “Haggerty misstated the law and incorrectly advised {Hernandez]” and that “Lieutenant Carrino, instead of correcting Haggerty’s misstatement . . . confirmed it, saying any consent had to be of ‘the entire vehicle . . . not just where the dog hit.'” This misinformation, according to the opinion, “stripped [Hernandez] of the knowledge of his right to limit the scope of his consent” which caused the court to reverse the conviction and remand the case back to the trial court.

Additionally, the court found that nothing in Haggarty’s testimony or the consent form established that Hernandez consented to a search of the closed toolbox in the trunk. And, since the police dog hit only on other areas of the car, the court found that there was no probable cause that there was cocaine in a closed toolbox in the trunk.

If your investigation finds that Haggarty and Carrino, despite having received adequate training and direction regarding consent searches, decided to ignore their training, we ask that you discipline them. Otherwise, we ask that your department review and supplement your training requirements in this area of the law.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party
Police Accountability Project
Email: [email protected]

Subsequent activity:

12/15/2021: Acknowledgement from Lyndhurst Police

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]