State v. Senecal

In State v. Senecal, 145 Vt. 554, 497 A.2d 349 (1985), the Court stated: "A hearing on a motion is not required unless the motion papers 'indicate a real dispute for one or more relevant facts.' " Id. at 560, 497 A.2d at 352 (quoting Reporter's Notes, V.R.Cr.P. 47(b)(2)). Furthermore, the Court stated that the failure to hold an evidentiary hearing does not deny due process rights unless "substantial factual issues" exist. Id. at 561, 497 A.2d at 352. Finally, in Senecal, the Court noted that, in deciding a motion, a court need not make findings of fact unless there is a factual dispute. See Senecal, 145 Vt. at 561, 497 A.2d at 352. The Court concluded that a defendant had waived his claim that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress where defendant failed to object at trial to the admission of the evidence that he had earlier sought to suppress. Id. at 557-58, 497 A.2d at 351. The Court explained that defendant's failure to object would not have resulted in a waiver of his claim had no new facts been adduced at trial and had the same judge presided at trial as had decided the motion to suppress. Id. at 558, 497 A.2d at 351. However, because the trial judge had not ruled on defendant's earlier motion, the trial judge "never had an opportunity to consider the defendant's objection to the evidence." Id. The Court stated that, "particularly since pretrial rulings are tentative and subject to revision, it cannot be said that objection at trial would have been a useless performance or would not have served to further apprise the court or the State of [defendant's] claim." Id. Thus, because defendant failed to object at trial, our review was for plain error only. Id.