On February 5, 2020, ACLU-NJ filed an amicus brief urging reversal in a case where the defendant was denied an adjournment for his criminal trial, which he requested because he did not have confidence in his public defender and wanted to see if he could hire a private attorney. In analyzing the adjournment request, the trial court failed to apply State v. Ferguson, which sets forth the factors that courts must consider when weighing whether an adjournment is appropriate. On appeal, the appellate division failed to review the trial court decision for structural error as required by State v. Kates.

Our brief further argues that the summary denial of defendant’s adjournment request amounts to a violation of the constitutional right to choice of counsel and, as such, is a structural error requiring reversal of the conviction.


Margaret McLane/Office of the Public Defender

Date filed

February 5, 2020


New Jersey Supreme Court