This post will briefly summarize your rights in the Municipal Courts of New Jersey. Indeed, as an independent branch of government constitutionally entrusted with the fair and just resolution of disputes, the judiciary preserves the rule of law and protects the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States and the State of New Jersey. In addition to sentencing defendants, people who do not come to court when summoned or subpoenaed, make payments as required, or comply with other requirements of their sentences, face additional punishments including fines, drivers’ license suspension, arrest, and jail. Therefore, to protect your rights in the Municipal Courts of New Jersey, call me at (856) 812-0321. Read More
The nerve! A man accused of a four-month crime spree that included two killings and several armed robberies turned down the State’s final plea offer this week. The crime spree allegedly began July 2014 and lasted until October. Additionally, the evidence against him will allegedly include DNA found on the defendant’s sweatshirt at the scene, text messages between the defendant and his girlfriend, and the testimony of several witnesses.
Therefore, the State had offered a 60-year prison sentence. Since the defendant rejected this offer, however, he will go to trial in June and possibly get a life sentence. But really, what is the difference between the State’s offer and the possibility of life imprisonment? Read more
We all have bad days. But it seems to me we invariably react in one of three ways to the bad days of others: empathy, apathy, or judgment. And judgment seems to be the most popular. For example, an Atco man will soon make his first formal appearance in the Gloucester County Superior Court for his arraignment involving two separate cases. One case involves an alleged assault by auto and heroin possession. I would submit the day of the collision was a bad day for him. But what is your reaction to this? How does it make you feel? Read more
Previously I blogged about sex- and race-based peremptory strikes under the U.S. and New Jersey Constitution. Those posts and others have touched on the issue of state constitutions with respect to jurisdictional disputes between SCOTUS and the judiciaries of the 50 states with a focus on New Jersey. These topics can supply engaging reading. Additionally, they provide subject matter for interesting debate and discussion. Significantly, these judicial opinions are the words and actions of a co-equal branch of federal and state government, the court. Thus, they demonstrate how judges exercise power. But none of that is relevant to the law and trial strategy. Read more
Previously I blogged about the constitutionality of race-based peremptory challenges during jury selection here and here. This post will discuss sex-based peremptory challenges in the case of J.E.B. v. Alabama.1 Before opening statements at trial, the parties may remove jurors from the pool by challenge for cause or peremptory strike. For example, to remove a juror for cause, the challenging party must demonstrate the juror’s views would prevent or substantially impair that juror’s service in accordance with the court’s instructions and the juror’s oath. Notwithstanding J.E.B., Batson2 or Gilmore3, however, peremptory challenges require neither explanation nor approval by the court. Read more
State of New Jersey v. Gilmore: Procedural History
An all-white jury of six men and six women convicted defendant, a black man, of three first-degree robberies of two Hispanic gas station attendants in Union, New Jersey. During jury selection, the white assistant prosecutor removed nine black prospective jurors by challenge for cause and peremptory strike. Defense counsel, a black man, moved for a mistrial because the prosecutor removed the black venirepersons based on their race. Nevertheless, the trial judge overruled defense counsel, relying on Swain v. Alabama 1 and State v. Smith.2
Subsequently, the Appellate Division remanded for the prosecutor to state his reasons for excusing the black jurors. Read more
Peremptory strikes in criminal jury trials have a long history. Unlike the challenge for cause, the peremptory challenge was exercised without a demonstration of cause by the defendant. Indeed, the peremptory challenge enabled the Crown to handpick juries dating to thirteenth-century England. Finding this obnoxious to their idea of justice, however, Parliament reserved the peremptory as a right for defendants only, and prohibited its use by the Crown. Additionally, American colonists continued the English practice regarding the peremptory challenges. As in England, criminal defendants were allotted peremptory challenges by statute, depending on the crime charged, while the challenges were Read more
I have blogged about New Jersey v. T.L.O.1, Michigan v. Long2, and State of New Jersey v. Lund.3 Those blog posts explained the holding and reasoning of the majority in each case. This post, however, will go to the heart of judicial power: using the law. Nowadays this issue seems to be especially important. Indeed, the news extensively covered one of President Trump’s executive orders banning Muslims from entering the United States. And after Trump criticized a judge for blocking the order, some people defended that judge and the judiciary as an independent branch of government.
Known as “Separation of Powers” doctrine, Read more
Previously I blogged about Michigan v. Long.1 The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) broke new ground under federal law with respect to two issues in Long: SCOTUS review of state court decisions, and Terry searches of cars. With respect to its jurisdiction to review decisions based on adequate and independent state grounds, SCOTUS articulated a “plain statement” rule for state courts to follow. Additionally, with respect to the Fourth Amendment, SCOTUS applied Terry v. Ohio 2 to protective searches of cars, requiring proof of a reasonable belief about the presence of weapons. This blog post will look at Read more