Thursday, July 28, 2011

North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab Gets Caught Presenting False Blood Lab Results, Which was Certified by the Same

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab (NCSBI) was exposed in being complicit in the submission of numerous false lab reports resulting in a number of defendants being unjustly and falsely convicted of crimes which they did not commit.

Specifically, in 1993 Gregory Flynt Taylor was convicted of murder and sentenced to a life sentence.  The criminal conspiracy was exposed when it was learned through a post-conviction appeal hearing that NCSBI Special Agent Duane Deaver was engaged in preparing false and misleading lab analysis when in the Taylor case testified that Mr. Taylor’s SUA tested positive for blood stains when in fact the samples only provided positive results from a presumptive test known as the “phenolphthalein test”.  In fact in the Taylor case Special Agent Deaver deliberately withheld from defense counsel the fact that when he performed the more advanced and confirmatory test called the “Takayama test”, the results were negative.  In the
Further Special Agent Deaver also withheld from the defense that a third test called the “Ouchterlony test” likewise proved negative for the existence of human blood.

Taylor case no only evidence against Taylor was a jail house snitch who claimed that Taylor admitted to him that he had committed the murder.

Fortunately Mr. Taylor was able to prove his innocence when Deaver was compelled to produce his original lab notes which confirmed the negative results on the two confirmatory tests.  This is one of the reasons that it is essential that the defense attorney in all cases require the production of all the laboratory notes of the forensic chemists.

In August of 2010 the Attorney General of North Carolina released the Swecker-Wolf Report”, prepared by two retired FBI agents which found that out of 15,419 serology reports, 904 filed contained similar misleading language as to presented by Deaver.

What is even more disturbing was the fact that the American Society of Crime Lab Directors-Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD-LAB) certified for 20 years that the NCSBI was proficient, accurate and reliable forensic laboratory.

What is even more shocking and troubling is that the New Jersey State Police Forensic Laboratory is likewise certified by ASCLD-LAB, the same agency that covered up the misconduct in North Carolina’s lab for 20 years.

By: Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Dated: July 28, 2011

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
Elizabeth, New Jersey
(908) 354-7006

NJ criminal attorneys, NJ criminal lawyers, NJ criminal defense lawyers, NJ criminal defense attorneys, Newark criminal lawyers, Elizabeth nj criminal attorneys, Elizabeth criminal defense lawyers.  Union county nj criminal lawyers.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Use and Abuse of Confidential Informants By Law Enforcement in the State of New Jersey

One of law enforcements dirty kept secrets which very rarely see the day of light is the use of confidential informants.  In every type of criminal case in both the state and federal levels a defendant can obtain a very substantial sentencing reduction, including a straight probationary sentence, for substantial assistance or cooperation to law enforcement.[1]  It is without dispute that the potential fear of criminal prosecution, reduced sentence, monetary incentives, or other inducements may motivate a criminal suspect, who turns into a confidential informant, in providing information which is false or not totally inaccurate.

An example of the most flagrant abuse of confidential informants is typified by the Bulger fiasco.  After 16 years on the lame, Irish Boston mob boss and serial murderer James “Whitey” Bulger was finally captured at the age of 81.  What is shocking about Mr. Bulger was that while committing dozens of murders he was an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and because of his informant status was able to commit crimes with impunity.

Bulger was allowed to flee Boston when he was warned by his long time handler FBI special agent John Connolly, Jr., who warned Bulger that Bulger was indicted for murder.

Because of his actions agent Connolly was convicted of racketeering in May of 2002 and sent to prison.

Bulger fed the FBI information on his rival the New England Mob and in return Bulger was permitted to run his illegal activities including murder without any interference from the FBI or other law enforcement agencies.

Although nothing similar has surfaced here in New Jersey as horrendous as the Bulger-FBI connection, many criminal defense attorneys have questioned in court the cozy relationships that many confidential informants or (CI) have with law enforcement.

Law Enforcement affidavits for search warrants are filled with hearsay statements to support law enforcements requests for judicial warrants to search homes, tape phones and engage in other types of judicial order investigation techniques.  Often it is impossible to test the veracity of these hearsay statements or to determine if the CI even is real. 

As the law stands now in New Jersey there are no official set of guidelines or rules to guide or control the use of misuse of confidential informants in criminal investigations in this state.

In New Jersey the problem has become so troubling that in June of 2011 the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey published a study on the practice of using CI’s in New Jersey.[2]  The study found that New Jersey does not have a set policy in the use of CI’s and that every county prosecutor office in this state has their own policies. 

In New Jersey there is no uniform statewide policy in the use of CI’s.  Only the New Jersey State Police have a statewide database on their informants but it appears that they do not share that data base with any other law enforcement agency in this state. 

It is without doubt that some law enforcement officers in this state overlook the criminal conduct of CIs under their supervision and control.  Further, many of these CIs in the attempt to “work-off” their offenses for sentencing purposes will engage in entrapment of people who would not have engaged in the crime, but for the inducements and promises made by the CIs to the unsuspected victims.  The CIs know they will not get arrested for crimes which they devise, plan and participate in, and have nothing to lose and will stop at nothing to snare others.

Many CIs are forced by law enforcement officers to participate as informants with threats of additional criminal charges, the threat of spreading rumors in the community or gang that the suspect is a “snitch”, removal and placing of their children in foster care, confiscation of property and loss of job, by notifying the arrestee of his or her arrest.

Currently the Office of the Attorney General requires that all CI agreements be in writing in all narcotics cases, and applicable state law requires that if the CI participated in the alleged crime that he or she can be forced to testify through a motion to disclose the identity of the CI.[3]  This information is published in the New Jersey Prosecutor’s Manual published by the Division of Criminal Justice on January 2, 2001.

Accordingly, a number of glaring misuses of confidential informants in this state that must be rectified and investigated in every criminal case.

1.              Statewide mandatory guidelines in the use of CIs.
2.              Whether the search warrants were circumvented and abused by the use of CIs.
3.              Veracity and actual existences of a CI in the investigation of an alleged crime.
4.              Whether the CI engaged in or promoted any crime.
5.              Full dossier of every CI, which includes, but not limited to, documentation and disclosure. when ordered by the court, of all information on the particular CI, including investigations in which he has been involved, and information disclosed, and whether that information was reliable and verified.
6.              That any and all misuse, or violation of the guidelines, require that the CI be prohibited in further participation in the program, and that any criminal investigations that he was involved in which lead to the arrest of a suspect be dismissed by the prosecutor’s office and disclosed to defense counsel. 
7.              That in every criminal case the assistant prosecutor must notify defense counsel of the use of a CI in a particular case because often that information is never disclosed to defense counsel.

In summary the use and abuse of confidential informants must be rectified and that in every case the criminal defense attorney must pursue that inquiry with proper investigation and the appropriate pre-trial motions.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
Dated: July 15, 2011

Use of criminal informants in New Jersey criminal practice, entrapment and confidential informants, nj criminal attorney, nj criminal trial attorneys, CIs in new jersey law enforcement.

[1] The Federal Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, 5K1.1; New Jersey Brimage Guidelines, 1998, 2004.
[3]  State v. Forez, 261 N.J. Super. 12, 22025 (App. Div. 1992), State v. Surles, (Slip Opinion, NJ. App. Div. 2009)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Admission into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program without Pleading Guilty As a Condition

The Pre-Trial Intervention Program (“PTI”) is a prosecutor program that allows the prosecutor in certain cases to divert the charged defendant to a period of one year of probation, after which all the charges are dismissed.  The program is open to first offenders charged with non-violent offenses as well as other requirements.  Admission to the program is no contingent upon the defendant pleading guilty to the charges.

Some county prosecutor’s offices in New Jersey, especially, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office have often insistent that as a condition to admission the defendant was required to admit to the crime.  I have always resisted this requirement and have been successful every time. 

Recently in State v. Burak a case decided on June 28, 2011, the Appellate Division granted an evidentiary hearing to determine whether defense counsel was ineffective when he permitted his client to plea guilty to the criminal charge as a condition of admittance to PTI.  In that case the State conceded that the defendant was improperly required to enter the guilty plea as a condition to admittance into the program.

This case highlights the need for defense counsel to continually be aware of the law and to challenge and question every proposal offered by the prosecutor.  As proven time and time again the assistant prosecutor handling the case for county prosecutor’s office will push defense counsel into agreeing to things that are sometimes illegal and not in the best interest of the defendant, or his attorney.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Pre-Trial Intervention, Criminal Lawyers NJ,  Elizabeth Criminal Attorney, Newark Criminal Lawyers, Union County Criminal Attorneys, NJ criminal trial attorneys
Dated: July 13, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011


The reason why Casey Anthony was found not guilty of the murder of her daughter Caylee had absolutely nothing to do with the skill or lack of skill or experience of her defense attorney.  In fact her attorney an inexperienced attorney having been admitted to the Florida Bar since 2005 made major trial errors in his defense of Ms. Anthony.  In his opening defense counsel knowing that his client would most likely never take the stand told the jury a factual scenario that the child was killed by an accident, knowing that the only way that he could prove that factual scenario was through the testimony of the defendant, Ms. Anthony, or other witnesses.  Defense counsel in his opening statement shocked veteran defense attorneys with promises that he knew he could not ever keep.  In most jury trials jurors do not forget promises made and not kept by defense attorneys and prosecutors and a jury will not hesitate to punish the respective sides for empty promises.

The reason why Ms Anthony was acquitted was for the simple reason that no reasonable jury following the law as given to them on reasonable doubt could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms. Anthony engaged in, or participated in the death of her daughter. 

     Under Florida law reasonable doubt is defined as:

A reasonable doubt is not a possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt. Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand, if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if, having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find the defendant not guilty because the doubt is reasonable. It is to the evidence introduced upon this trial, and to it alone, that you are to look for that proof. A reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant may arise from the evidence, conflict in the evidence or the lack of evidence.

In the Anthony case the State of Florida decided to indict Ms. Anthony on capital murder charge knowing that they had no evidence as to her guilt beyond the tenuous circumstantial facts regarding Ms. Anthony’s behavior during the period in which Caylee was missing.  The State of Florida hoped in getting a conviction of Ms. Anthony not through hard evidence but through the visceral hatred that people have when they see that a mother, who has not seen her child in thirty days, and lies about it, consoles her sorrows with drinking dancing and partying.

Unlike Florida in New Jersey the reasonable doubt jury charge and attempts to afford the defendant accused of a crime even more protection.

The prosecution must prove its case by more than a mere preponderance of the evidence, yet not necessarily to an absolute certainty.
The State has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of you may have served as jurors in civil cases, where you were told that it is necessary to prove only that a fact is more likely true than not true. In criminal cases, the State’s proof must be more powerful than that. It must be beyond a reasonable doubt.
A reasonable doubt is an honest and reasonable uncertainty in your minds about the guilt of the defendant after you have given full and impartial consideration to all of the evidence. A reasonable doubt may arise from the evidence itself or from a lack of evidence. It is a doubt that a reasonable person hearing the same evidence would have.
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof, for example, that leaves you firmly convinced of the defendant's guilt. In this world, we know very few things with absolute certainty. In criminal cases the law does not require proof that overcomes every possible doubt. If, based on your consideration of the evidence, you are firmly convinced that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged, you must find [him/her] guilty. If, on the other hand, you are not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt, you must give defendant the benefit of the doubt and find [him/her] not guilty.
The bottom line is that Casey Anthony was very lucky that she was given a jury which took the reasonable doubt standard seriously, and applied the law without passion, prejudice or hatred.  Unfortunately, and this is no secret in the criminal defense bar, most juries do not hold the State to its proofs and adhere to the reasonable doubt standard as given by the trial judge.  Yes she was only 12 good jurors away from sitting on death row.  Although most people, including myself, believed that Ms. Anthony was probably guilty, the jury in the end did the right thing.  When all is said and done, a jury of 12 reasonable people is the only protection we have against the power of the government to prosecute and take another human beings life and liberty. 

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
Elizabeth, New Jersey
(908) 354-7006
Criminal Defense Attorney in New Jersey, Union County, Federal Court, Newark, N.J., Jersey City N.J., New Brunwick, N.J.

Dated: July 8, 2011