chklt_crim_100: Criminal Justice

[L]awyers in criminal courts are necessities, not luxuries. The right of one charged with crime to counsel may not be deemed fundamental and essential to fair trials in some countries, but it is in ours.

— Justice Hugo Black, Gideon v. Wainwright

The rights guaranteed to the accused, defendants, offenders and prisoners are fundamental political rights that protect all Americans from governmental abuse of power. These rights include the guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to reasonable bail, the right to due process of law and the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. They are indispensable to a free society.

Legal Cases

  • State v. Denelsbeck
    Mandatory jail time of more than 6 months for third DUI offenders should trigger the right to a jury trial.
  • Bornstein v. County of Monmouth
    County jail requests to seal court record of video footage of the last hours of an inmate’s life.
  • State v. Pomianek
    A victim’s perception of what the defendant intended by their words is not enough to convict someone of bias intimidation.
  • State v. Bessey
    Animal rights activist tickets for violating ordinance that had been changed the day of the protest and which she was unaware of.
  • Richardson v. Wanaque
    Town has an unconstitutional juvenile curfew ordinance
  • State v. T.J.M.
    Evidence of Prior Prosecutorial Misconduct Should be Considered Admissible Evidence.
  • State v. Steele
    New Jersey’s current system of pre-trial detention and release unfairly penalizes poor defendants
  • Petition for Rulemaking for Juvenile Solitary Confinement
    Petition urging the Juvenile Justice Commission to end solitary confinement of juveniles in their custody.
  • State v. Matthew Graham
    Defendant denied indigency status for reasons unrelated to his economic status.
  • State v. Skinner
    Rap lyrics are a form of artistic expression that are protected under the First Amendment and the New Jersey Constitution and trial court judges should adopt guidelines to guide courts when considering whether or not to admit fictional, artistic expression as evidence.

Legislative Efforts

  • Marijuana Legalization
    Legalizes possession and personal use of small amounts of Marijuana for persons age 21 and over.
  • Medical Parole Expansion
    Expands eligibility of medical parole to prisoners determined to be permanently incapable for performing basic daily functions of life and in need of 24-hour medical attention; creates presumption of release; requires medical parolees be provided assistance in applying for Medicaid upon release; requires Parole board to collect data on medical parole grants and denials.
  • Expungement Reform
    Reduces waiting period for eligibility for expungement of certain offenses; provides for automatic expungement of charges that did not result in conviction, as well as successful drug court graduates; expands eligibility of multiple offense expungement to one indictable offense and two disorderly persons offenses.
  • Comprehensive Juvenile Justice Reform
    Raises the minimum age for waivers from 14 to 15; eliminates some less serious crimes from the list of offenses subject to waiver; creates presumption that waived juveniles remain housed with juveniles until age 21; provides right to counsel and enhances due process protections before juveniles can be transferred from juvenile detention centers to adult prisons; eliminates use of solitary confinement except to protect health, safety, or the operation of a facility; mandates data collection and public reporting regarding the use of waiver and solitary confinement.
  • Ending Overuse of Solitary Confinement
    Prohibits Department of Corrections from housing in solitary confinement people under 22, people with mental illnesses, people with developmental disabilities, and other vulnerable populations. Limits, except in emergency situations, the use of solitary confinement for other prisoners to 15 consecutive days or 20 days in any 60 day period. Mandates data collection regarding the use of solitary confinement.
  • Limits on Militarization of Police – Local Approval
    Requires local unit approval of applications for participation in federal 1033 program.
  • Limits on Militarization of Police – AG Oversight and Reporting
    equires AG oversight of transfer of federal surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies; establishes review and reporting requirement.
  • DNA Collection for Low-Level Offenses
    Requires law enforcement to collect DNA samples from adults and juveniles convicted of certain non-criminal disorderly person offenses, including shoplifting and marijuana possession. This type of expansive collection will lead to massive government databases of New Jerseyans’ DNA, raising enormous privacy and due process concerns.
  • Ban the Box
    Prohibits large employers in most fields from conducting a criminal history inquiry of a job applicant until after a first interview
  • Bail System Reform
    Moves New Jersey’s bail system to a risk-based one and away from a wealth-based system that results in thousands of people facing long pre-trial jail sentences due to inability to afford bail. A system based on actual risk to the community—not ability to pay—better protects public safety, reduces jail overcrowding, keeps families together, and saves taxpayer resources.

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