In April 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed an amicus brief and argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court regarding a defendant’s right to waive his or her appearance at a sentencing hearing. The ACLU-NJ argued that under the current rules, a trial court judge cannot compel a defendant to be present at a sentencing hearing. The brief explained that the purpose of a sentencing hearing itself is not to punish, but to provide judges with the necessary information that would allow them to form an appropriate sentence for the crime that was committed. “A defendant’s absence from a sentencing in no way diminishes the family’s ability to meaningfully participate in the process,” states the ACLU-NJ brief. “Simply put, a court cannot compel the defendant’s presence at the sentencing hearing at the victim’s behest in order to force the defendant to atone for his wrongful acts and be subjected to the opprobrium of the court for his devastating actions prior to the imposition of sentence.” The Supreme Court decided that In order for waivers to be justified a defendant must advance specific reasons that demonstrate special circumstances and that the trial court did not abuse it’s discretion when it ordered the waiver.
- Tedesco: Amicus Brief (1.0 MB pdf)