Wednesday, May 25, 2011
United States Supreme Court affirms lower Courts Ruling that Prison Conditions in the California Penal System amounts to Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Police Dispatcher Misidentifying Detained Suspect Calls for the Suppression of Evidence from the Wrongly Arrested Suspect
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
When is a Criminal Defense Attorney Considered Incompetent to the Level of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel?
In 1996 Richard Rosario was convicted of murder in Bronx County New York. The only evidence against Rosario was the testimony of two witnesses whom picked his photo out of a book of police photos. There was no motive for the crime, since Rosario did not know the victim, or the two witnesses.
For the defense of this murder Rosario had the powerful and persuasive evidence that for the entire month June, 1996, Rosario was living in the State of Florida, and had 12 alibi witnesses whom were willing to testify to that fact.
Unfortunately his court appointed lawyer only called two of those witnesses to testify. The prosecutor was able to convince the jury during his summations that those two witnesses were close friends of Rosario and lied on his behalf.
The Federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in denying Rosario a new trial even though his court appointed lawyer performance was a “colossal failure”, involving “uncommonly bad mistake.” Fortunately for Rosario Chief Judge Jacobs dissented with the majority decision, and the matter is now before the United States Supreme Court, which will decide next week whether to take the case.
Hopefully the United States Supreme Court will get it right next week and agree to hear the case and grant a new trial for Mr. Rosario who has been incarcerated since 1996.
More often than we might think decisions that are made by defense counsel can sometimes be classified as ineffective, thus denying the defendant his constitutional right as guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. During every criminal trial every decision made by defense counsel has enormous consequences for the defendant, and every decision made must be made with the out-most competency expected of competent legal counsel, which can only come from experience and knowledge of the law.
In New Jersey every defendant convicted of a crime has up to five years to file a petition for post conviction relief requesting the trial court and than the appellate court if necessary, grant a new trial based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Although rarely granted, in some cases the performance of trial counsel was so deficient as to warrant a new trial.
Attorney Sanzone has 21 years of experience in defending individuals charged with Federal and State crimes, and has dedicated his practice to giving competent and vigorous representation to each and every one of his clients.
Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
New Tool By Law Enforcement to Avoid Obtaining a Search Warrant and Abrogate the Fourth Amendment in Searching a Home.
On May 16, 2011, the United Supreme Court held in Kentucky v. King, that police officers arriving at a home, and suspecting that evidence is being destroyed can bust down the door and proceed to search the house if they believe that evidence is being destroyed. This rule only applies if the police first knock and announce their presence and did not create the exigent circumstances.
In the Kentucky v. King case police officers in Lexington, Kentucky, suspecting what they believed to be a hand to hand drug transaction in a parking lot, rushed into an apartment complex to arrest the suspect. However, while in the apartment they smelled the odor of burnt marijuana coming from one of the apartments. Suspecting that evidence was being destroyed, they knocked down the door and searched the apartment finding cocaine and marijuana. It was later learned that the apartment which they entered was the wrong apartment.
The lower court suppressed the evidence citing the Fourth Amendment and search warrant requirement to enter a home in the absence of exigent circumstances.
As Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., writing the majority opinion wrote. “... the exigent circumstances rule should not apply where the police, without a warrant or any legally sound basis for a warrantless entry, threaten that they will enter without permission unless admitted.”
Justice Alito also wrote that if the defendant Hollis D. King had opened the door and refused admittance to the officers the officers would have needed a search warrant, because at the stage he was not destroying evidence. However, defendant King decided to ignore the knocks by the officers and engaged in destruction of evidence. Thus the Court in essence affirmed New Jersey case law which holds that police officers cannot enter a home under the basis of the “plain smell” rule without a search warrant.
It is unlikely that this decision will have much effect in New Jersey in State criminal prosecutions because our New Jersey Supreme Court has continually ruled that the application of the Fourth Amendment in home searches is more protective than federal law.
A motion to suppress is a key tool by every defendant charged with processing contraband in any criminal case. If you are charged with such a crime and for more information regarding your rights you are urged to seek the legal advise of an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer, Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., an attorney who has represented and been successfully in suppressing evidence seized by police without a search warrant for many of his clients.Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
P.O. Box 261, 277 North Broad Street, Elizabeth, N.J.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The State Troopers who were involved in the investigation of one of their fellow Troopers, Sgt. William Billingham, who was caught driving recklessly and intoxicated when Mr. Billingham rear-ended and nearly cost the life of an innocent Black motorist, Clayton Tanksley.Instead of arresting Trooper Billingham and firing him from the force, his supervisors covered up Trooper Billingham’s criminal actions, and instead arrested the innocent Black motorist, Mr. Tanksley.
The New Jersey State Police claim the Motto of “Honor, Duty and Fidelity.” Taxpayers of this State support this State agency and we deserve more than more cover-ups from incompetent, dishonest and corrupt Troopers. It is clear that the Troopers continue to protect their own, as they did with Trooper Sheila McKaig who was caught three times driving while intoxicated and did not receive one ticket.
The actions of the State Police Supervisors who protected Trooper Billingham bring no Honor to the State Police or this State, are not performing their “Duty”, and demonstrate by their actions only “Fidelity” to each other.
The police officers of the New Jersey State Police our not above the law, and if they are to be respected they most first respect themselves and follow the Motto of “Honor, Duty or Fidelity.”
If the New Jersey State Police are serious about reforming themselves, there must be swift and serious discipline for Mr. Billingham and the Troopers who conspired, aided and abetted Billingham’s criminal actions.
Because it is clear that the New Jersey State Police cannot reform themselves it is time that the United States Attorney General or the State Attorney General’s Office, again intervene to investigate and prosecute this matter. Clearly the Troopers involved have committed a violation of federal law under the applicable federal criminal rights statutes. (18 U.S.C. Section 241; 18 U.S.C. Sections 242, 245)
May 11, 2011
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
Tel: (908) 354-7006
Cell: (201) 240-5716