Who decides whether to plead guilty or go to trial?

Who decides whether to plead guilty or go to trial?, Sixth Amendment, trial by jury, cross-examination, confrontation, waiver, New Jersey, NJ, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerThe 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


Arraignment, R. 3:9-1

Arraignment, R. 3:9-1, right to counsel, sixth amendment, article 1 paragraph 10, U.S. Constitution, New Jersey Constitution, grand jury, indictment, New Jersey, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerWe 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 . 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


The Fourth Amendment and the Right to Be Secure in Your House

The Fourth Amendment and the Right to Be Secure in Your House, Fourth Amendment, United States Constitution, Article 1 Paragraph 7, New Jersey Constitution, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerThis past weekend, a police tactical unit forcibly entered a Gloucester Township home, per nj dot com. In their inimitable fashion, the cops broke open the garage door Sunday morning with a robot. But was this absolutely necessary? After all, according to the media, the cops destroyed the private property despite having full access to family members who lived there. Indeed, after a juvenile had called the police earlier that night, everyone left the house. Furthermore, the family members went directly to the police to file complaints. But about two hours after everyone left, a neighbor heard the man banging on the front door Read more

The Law and Trial Strategy in New Jersey Courts

The Law and Trial Strategy, Historic Somerset County Courthouse, State of New Jersey v. Gilmore, Supreme Court of New Jersey, Batson v. Kentucky, Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS, Constitution, Constitutional Law, Fourteenth Amendment, 14th Amendment, Equal Protection, New Jersey Constitution, State Constitutional Law, Impartial Jury, Voir Dire, Jury Selection, Trial, Racial Discrimination, Race-Based, Peremptory Challenge, Peremptory Strike, Federalism, Horizontal Federalism, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyer, trial attorney, trial lawyerPreviously 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


J.E.B. v. Alabama: Sex-Based Peremptory Challenges

J.E.B. v. Alabama, 511 U.S. 127, 114 S.Ct. 1419, 128 L.Ed.2d 89 (1994), Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS, Constitution, Constitutional Law, Fourteenth Amendment, 14th Amendment, Equal Protection, Voir Dire, Trial, Jury Selection, Racial Discrimination, Race-Based, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerPreviously 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


Batson v. Kentucky: Racial Discrimination In Court

Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d (1986), Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS, Constitution, Constitutional Law, Fourteenth Amendment, 14th Amendment, Equal Protection, Voir Dire, Trial, Jury Selection, Racial Discrimination, Race-Based, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerPeremptory 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


Using The Law: The Exercise of Judicial Power

using the law, State v. Lund, 119 N.J. 35 (1990), Supreme Court of New Jersey, New Jersey Constitution, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerI 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


State of New Jersey v. Lund: State and Federal Constitutions in Lockstep

State of New Jersey v. Lund, 119 N.J. 35 (1990), Supreme Court of New Jersey, New Jersey Constitution, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerPreviously 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


Michigan v. Long: Protective Searches and Constitutionally Protected Areas

Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 103 S.Ct. 3469, 77 L.Ed.2d 1201 (1983), Supreme Court of the United States, SCOTUS, Fourth Amendment, adequate and independent state grounds, New Jersey, Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerIn Terry v. Ohio, SCOTUS crafted an exception to the requirement of a warrant and probable cause, allowing police to protectively search a person.1 But to fall within the exception, the circumstances must provide police with a reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct and a reasonable belief the person poses a danger. Subsequently, SCOTUS determined the police may search incident to arrest an individual’s wingspan without a warrant based on Terry principles.2 Furthermore, SCOTUS expanded the individual’s wingspan to include a recently occupied vehicle, also based on Terry principles.3 Read more


State of New Jersey v. Best: The Fourth Amendment on Public School Property

State of New Jersey v. Best, 201 N.J. 100 (2010), Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County, criminal defense, drunk driving, traffic ticket, juvenile, attorney, lawyerPreviously I blogged about New Jersey v. T.L.O. 1 The focus of this post, State of New Jersey v. Best 2 applies T.L.O. to a warrantless car search on school property by a school official. The United States Supreme Court in T.L.O. addressed whether the exclusionary rule applies to evidence seized by a school official without police involvement in juvenile delinquency proceedings. SCOTUS answered this question in the affirmative.Notwithstanding the State’s position that school officials act as surrogates for the actual parents (in loco parentis), the Court decided they are State Actors. Indeed, by rejecting the State’s position, SCOTUS reasoned the breadth and Read more