Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Role of a “Criminal Justice Lawyer.” Time to Reform the Criminal Justice Jury System and Permit the Jurors to Hear All The Truth.

A philosopher once wrote that the only true test of any law is whether it manifests itself in the giving of justice. Everybody talks about justice, but do we really understand what justice means, and does justice have any place in the criminal justice system? 

Many cynics would say that justice usually goes to the highest bidder or the wealthy litigant or defendant.  There is much truth to that. 

Justice of course can be defined in many ways, most notably in the way it is defined.  Justice for one is not necessarily justice for another, and justice can be defined by an individual’s subjective ideas of right, wrong, good and evil.  Of course, any of these principals can be influenced by ones particular religious ideas, or lack of, prejudices, bias, educational, mental, psychological or physical disabilities. Accordingly, if you had a room filed with a hundred men of women of different political, ethic, religious, economic and racial backgrounds, you would get a difference opinions of what is justice as it applies to any given set of facts and circumstances.  Justice for someone would be injustice to others.  The hedge fund or banker in the group would in many cases believe that he was “entitled to make millions”, and it was justice that he earn that salary, while the day laborer would shake his head an say it was injustice that he should make the minimum wage to support his family of four.

Likewise, some in the group would not think twice about judging as a juror in a criminal trial of finding a poor inner city young man or woman guilty of selling a small quantity of drugs, arguing that they were performing justice.  They might argue that they did this in the name of justice knowing that the consequence of that judgment would send that person to prison for many years or even decades, because “he got what he deserved”, not understanding that the human being which they have righteously judged never had the chance that they did in life.

In truth the factual situations are endless in which people disagree in the most fundamental way in which they agree or disagree in their concept of justice.

In truth how can anyone judge anyone else?  We see an action, but we never see a motive.  The reason why people act or fail to act in any given situation can depend on countless factors.

Does the jury system promote justice?  How can jury have any say in the justice system if juries are never told the entire truth, the full truth, of every case, and about the people to whom they are to judge.  Why in the criminal justice system are criminal juries never told the punishment and sentence of their guilty verdict?  Juries are never told, and under New Jersey cannot be told, that the defendant who is found guilty will be exposed to, such as extended terms of imprisonment, or periods of parole ineligibility if they determine someone is guilty of the charges.  Juries are told that they can only be judges of the facts.  Why should the jury not be told that if they believe the law to be unjust under the particular circumstances, that they can render a not guilty verdict?  Is it not right and just to education the jury to the full consequences of their decision?  Should the jury in a criminal case not know everything about the fellow human being in which they are to judge?  To isolate the jury with limited knowledge renders their decision making process inadequate and flawed.  In such a flawed system it renders the jury to be a mere tool of the State, and not true judges of the facts, which the law is meant to be.  Giving lip service to justice with words only is not justice.    I

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
PO Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207

Lawyers in Elizabeth NJ, Attorneys in Elizabeth NJ, Elizabeth Criminal Lawyers, NJ Criminal Justice Lawyers, NJ Lawyers, NJ Criminal Lawyers

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Win Your Criminal Case; and What Makes the Best Criminal Defense Attorney.

It is often asked of me by prospective clients and young attorneys what is the secret of your success and how do you obtain such a large number of cases being dismissed, extremely favorable plea agreements, and jury acquittals for the cases that ultimately go to trial.

     Over twenty-five years ago while attending a criminal law seminar while still in law school I was privileged in listening to an experienced criminal defense attorney whose words I have never forgotten.  His key to success was simple and direct, that criminal cases are not won in the court room but in the office.  To this day my philosophy with ever criminal case is that pretrial preparation is the key to success.  You win criminal cases by doing extensive criminal trial preparation with every case.  That includes the relentless request from the prosecutor for every piece of discovery which may be relevant to, or lead to relevant discovery in the case.  If the prosecutor refuses to turn over the evidence use your subpoena power, OPRA request, or file a motion to compel.  Normally, when important information or evidence is not turned over to the defense attorney during the initial exchange of discovery, it is because the prosecutor simply and honestly does not have the discovery in his or her file.  However, the search should not end there.  The question that a good criminal defense attorney must ask, who is concerned in winning his case, is why did the police fail to turn-over to the prosecutor evidence which is clearly relevant to the guilt of innocence of the criminal defendant?  The answer is simple but not obvious to the inexperienced criminal defense attorney.  When a piece of evidence is not turned over, and it appears that the police have overlooked it, the majority of the times it was not innocently overlooked, but rather, not obtained, not preserved, or not turned over, because that particular evidence DID NOT FIT INTO THEIR THEORY OF THE CASE.  Stated differently, the evidence that they conveniently over-looked, helps your client’s defense and is fodder for reasonable doubt, or in some cases proves that the defendant is completely innocent.

Therefore, it is essential that an extensive and complete investigation of the file and evidence be reviewed by the criminal defense attorney, and to begin with the goal and mind-set, not only what the evidence that was furnished by the prosecution says, but what it doesn’t say, and left out, and why was it left out?

The best criminal defense attorney should with ever case than begin to decide what pretrial motions need to be filed.  Remember, the best criminal defense attorney does not stop with the typical motions, such as motion to suppress, but rather, he must be as creative as possible, to think outside the box.  Only than will the attorney be able to obtain a wealth of information which will ultimately lead to a complete dismissal of all charges, very favorable plea agreement, or acquittal at trial.  Remember, with all cases the first opportunity to win your case is before you even step foot in the court room with your client. 

In the final analysis, fancy words or dramatics, begging with the prosecutor, judge or jury will benefit your client little if you are not prepared to do the hard and tedious work pretrial.

Sanzone Firm
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
(908) 354-7006
Dated: December 14, 2011