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


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


State of New Jersey v. Gilmore: The Peremptory Strike and the Right to an Impartial Jury

State of New Jersey v. Gilmore: Procedural History

State of New Jersey v. Gilmore, Supreme Court of New Jersey, New Jersey Constitution, Constitution, Constitutional Law, State Constitutional Law, Impartial Jury, Voir Dire, Jury Selection, Trial, Racial Discrimination, Race-Based, 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, lawyerAn 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


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


Lesser Included Offenses under New Jersey Law

Lesser Included OffensesIn an unpublished opinion, the Superior Court, Appellate Division of New Jersey reversed a jury’s guilty verdict for a defendant charged with third-degree terroristic threats, second-degree burglary, and fourth degree stalking. State v. Jose Ortiz. The panel held the judge violated the doctrine of Lesser Included Offenses by failing to charge simple assault at trial.

The news story appeared on nj dot com. This post will summarize the legal doctrine the panel applied to this case. Read more


“You The Juror”—NJ Judiciary Juror Orientation Video

Not Just Any Other Day

New Jersey Judiciary Juror Orientation VideoIn 2013 the New Jersey Superior Court summoned me for jury duty. Outside the Jury Orientation Room, I noticed many of the hundreds assembled had found seats. Meanwhile, many others in the crowded room were standing. Surprisingly, court staff did not play “You The Juror,” the New Jersey Judiciary Juror Orientation Video.

Instead, a single staff member addressed the group. She did not have a microphone or amplification equipment.

I wondered whether this government employee was aware of a simple truth: jurors feel nervous about jury duty. Read more


The Four Sources of Juror Lists in New Jersey

“The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.”

juror source listsYou received the juror questionnaire and summons in the mail. After reviewing and answering the questions, you returned them to the court. Along the way, did you wonder how the court tracked down you for jury duty? In our day and age, with scarce privacy and anonymity, this appears to be a reasonable question to ask. Indeed, the author of the above quote, H. Allen Smith had the right idea. The answer is juror source lists. Read more


New Jersey Juror Summons, Questionnaire, and Penalties

Jury Duty Blues

jury duty, juror penaltiesOrdinarily adults consider jury service inconvenient. After all, it requires jurors to lay other plans aside, and it interrupts everyday life. For many people, jury service lasts a day. But for other people it lasts several weeks. Despite the inconveniences, New Jersey law makes jury service a top priority. And the law gives our courts the power to make an incompliant juror’s life even more inconvenient through juror penalties.
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The Six Requirements for Jury Duty in New Jersey

Can anyone serve on a jury in New Jersey?

Jury Duty, Camden New JerseyYou might feel you saw all of mankind the last time you appeared for jury duty in New Jersey. For example, did you see individuals who reaffirmed your belief in Darwin’s theory of evolution?

The court’s parking facility might have seemed congested with vehicles. For instance, did you question the credentials of the architects who designed the garage?

Invariably, all the seats in the Juror Assembly Room probably appeared occupied. To illustrate, did you share those quarters with an individual who ignored society’s expectations of personal hygiene?
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