Friday, January 30, 2015

Prosecutor Must Reveal Confidential Witnesses Prior Cooperation with Law Enforcement under New Jersey Law.

In State v. Hernandez the New Jersey Appellate Division held that in all cases in which the prosecutor will use a confidential informant to testify (CW), the State must provide to defense counsel all cooperation agreements as well as details regarding the extend of the cooperation.  In this case the prosecutor filed an interlocutory appeal, appealing the trial court’s ruling that the defendants were entitled to broad discovery regarding a confidential witnesses cooperation with law enforcement in other cases.  The appellate division granted the appeal and affirmed the trial court.

In this case the CW engaged in three cocaine buys with the defendants.  The State intended to have the CW testify as to those buys.  In discovery the prosecutor provide the name of the CW, his criminal history and a copy of the  cooperation agreement which the State had with the CW.

The defense requested additional discovery in the form of the nature and extend of cooperation, as well as any benefits which the CW received for working with the prosecutor on the cocaine purchases.  Specifically, the defendants requested a privilege log detailing internal memorandum and correspondences between the prosecutor and the CW which the prosecutor deemed privileged.  In addition, defendants requested any audio tapes of the CW, his e-mails to the prosecutor, and any statements that the CW had made, which included any investigation reports regarding the CW on the other cases in which the CW had cooperated.

The trial court agreed with the defendants and ordered the discovery subject to any redactions as to specific names and address’ in the other cases.  This included the requirement that the prosecutor electronically search its data base to provide defense with information regarding all past cooperation in which the CW was involved.

In deciding this case the appeals court cited the seminal case Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87-88, 83 S. Ct. 1194, 1197, 10 L. Ed.2d 215, 219 (1963). In that case the State is required to provide the defendants with the record of any statements, of any individual with relevant information or evidence in the case, which are within the possession, custody or control of the prosecutor. Citing Rule 3:13-3(b)(1)(G). In addition to that the State is also required to provide defense counsel with all other exculpatory information or material, which would include pending charges, plea bargains or cooperation agreements for which a witness may be seeking favorable treatment for his trial testimony. State v. Long, 119 N.J. 439, 488-89 (1990).

Before you decide on hiring a criminal defense attorney you should carefully review the criminal attorneys and decide whether that attorney has the experience and competency in handling your criminal case.

Food for thought:  About twenty-years ago the welfare state was being assaulted, along with the export of livable working wages oversees by the rich and powerful.  To take its place was the punishment state promoted by both the republican and democratic parties.  This downward escalator for the working class and poor, by taking away their jobs  and safety net, created a vast army of unemployed poor.  Capitalism needed a replacement and the penitentiary was their answer.  The prison population in the United States has increased every year and we have gone from a working state to a prison state.

Quote of the Day: Theologian Cardinal Baronius’s once wrote, “The Scriptures tell us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go”

277 North Broad Street
P.O. Box 261
Elizabeth (Union County), New Jersey 07207
Office Phone No. (908) 354-7006
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Dated:  January 30, 2015

New Jersey Criminal Law Defense Attorney, Lawyers, and Attorneys, serving Union, Hudson, Essex, Bergen, Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Somerset and Mercer counties, Attorney Reviews, Review of Union County Criminal Lawyers.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Reflection on the Words “Reasonable Doubt.”

As a criminal defense attorney the two most important words in all of criminal law and procedure is the words, “reasonable doubt.” 

Legal scholars and philosophers have thought long and hard in attempting to articulate what these two words mean.  What are these elusive ethereal words in which the criminally accuse hang their life and future upon. 

I guess in the final analysis these words can mean very little or very much to the individual juror.  Depending on the individual juror’s character, personality, education and religious beliefs it can mean many different things to different people.  On one hand when a juror has a strong sense of fairness, justice, compassion, mercy, care in  deliberation, and fear of making a mistake, that individual would probably make a good juror because the words “reasonable doubt”, would be words for the calling to perform a scared duty.  On the other hand, a juror who is not deliberative has no understanding or appreciation for justice or fairness, unmerciful, the words “reasonable doubt” would have no real meaning or understanding to such a person.

Reasonable doubt in other words is a moral certainty of correctness, of reaching a decision as to guilt or not guilt, that is a close to what a mortal human being can render, without violating his or her mortal consciousness.
Or stated more directly: Would you convict if these same set of facts were charged against you or someone you loved.  Would you want a jury to honor the reasonable doubt standard and acquit or would it not matter.

Very few people know that the origins of reasonable doubt go back many hundreds of years in history, back to the middle ages, in the time of western Christendom, when it was a mortal sin for Christians to convict someone who was innocent.  Therefore, it was mortal, or in other words, not a sin to convict someone, as long as there was any doubt in the juror’s mind which was reasonable.  In other words, as long as they had reasonable doubt they were prohibiting from rendering a guilty verdict without the penalty of mortal sin. 

Therefore, the origins of the rule were to protect the juror from eternal damnation and not the accused. In other words reasonable doubt is similar to ones conscience.  Jimmy Cricket, “let your conscience be your guide.”

Today the guilt of condemning someone is shifted like a game between the jury and the judge.  The judge says, my hands are tied, a must accept the jurors verdict, I didn’t convict him the jury did.  I have no moral responsibility to this young man.  On the other hand the game shifts to the jury which believes, I will not punish him, the judge will.  I have no mortal responsibility to this young man, I am not punishing him, I didn’t even know or could find out what his punishment was, I have no moral responsibility.  As the classical Romans pronounced.  It is the law that kills him, not you. “Lex eum occidit, non tu.”

Or consider another analogy in thinking about this concept.  The American system to a firing squad. Firing squad procedure is well known: One member of the squad is chosen to receive a blank, but no member of the squad is permitted to know precisely which of them the one who is firing the blank is. The purpose of this procedure is easy to discern: It is intended to relieve the individual squad members of a burdensome sense of moral responsibility, by allowing each one to doubt that it was he who fired the fatal shot. It offers, as we might say, a kind of moral safe harbor for the conscience of killing another human being.

No juror in a criminal jury trial is carrying blanks.  Each vote count, and each vote must be decided with moral certainty, anything else is a charade.  Your vote, remains with you forever.

Quote of the Day:

Ralph Waldo Emerson.  “God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose.”  Those who choose repose receive release from the mandates of truth; but it is only temporary. No man or woman can reject truth forever.  Those who choose truth, on the other hand, have no rest—and so they continue to fight for justice. 

January 22, 2015
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
(908) 354-7006

Friday, January 16, 2015

New Jersey Appellate Division Rejects Waterfront Commissions Legal Definition of “Inimical Association” as it Applies to an “Association” with an Alleged Organized Crime Figure

In the Matter of Commission Proceeding on Revocation of License of Pasquale Pontoriero, ____ N.J. Super. _____ (App. Div. 2015, the New Jersey Appellate Division on January 7, 2015, although affirming the license revocation of Pasquale Pontoriero, to work as a longshoreman hiring agent, the Appellate Division nevertheless held that the Waterfront Commission erred in that case holding that a longshoreman’s associate with a known organized crime figure is ipso facto inimical to the Waterfront Act.

For a full copy of the decision to to:

In this case the Administrative Law Judge for the Waterfront Commission adopted a strict liability standard and revoked the Waterfront registration of Mr. Pontoriero because of Pontoriero’s alleged association with known organized crime figure Tino Fiumera and Steven DePiro. In that case the Administrative Law Judge and the Waterfront Commission held that regardless of the facts or circumstances that if a longshoreman, checker, or maintenance personnel associate with a known organized crime figure that it is automatic revocation of his or her license.

In rejecting the Waterfront’s strict liability standard in Pontoriero the Appellate Division held that the commission must analyze the factors found in the New Jersey casino control case,  In re Staluppi, 94 N.J.A.R. 2d, 31 (1993).  The factors are:  (1) The nature and sensitivity of the licensee’s position; (2) The time elapsed since the licensee’s last interaction with the associate; (3) The duration and frequency of the association; (4) The purpose and nature of the association; (5) Whether the association was attenuated through third-parties; (6) The associate’s character and reputation; (7) The licensee’s knowledge or reasonable efforts to determine the associate’s character and reputation; (8) If there is more than one associate, the number of associates, and the relationship amongst them; (9) Termination of the association, if any; (10) The reason for any such termination; and, (11) Any other relevant facts or circumstances.  Apply these factors to the Pontoriero case the appellate division held that since Mr. Pontoriero was a hiring agent, a highly sensitive to corruption and that Pontoriero had invoked the his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent when asked would he favor hiring a Genovese family associate over a non-Genovese associate.  Under these facts it was reasonable for the Commission to hold that a reasonable observer could conclude that Fiumara and DePiro held inappropriate influence over Mr. Pontoriero, and hence, the revocation of his license by the Commission was proper.  It was undisputed on the record that Fiumara and DePiro were members of the Genovese crime family.

In the final analysis this is a good case and helpful to the license workers at the New Jersey and New York docks whom decide to litigate their case in New Jersey courts. Further, the case is helpful because the New Jersey courts for the first time expressly defined the term “inimical associate” as it applies to the Waterfront Commission Act.  The definition that was previously used by the Commission in all of their cases pre-Pontoriero has now been rejected.  The definition of strict liability used by the Waterfront Commission in pre-Pontoriero cases was overly broad and permitted the Waterfront Commission to act in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and thus, unfairly treated longshoreman, checkers and maintenance personnel, when proceedings were brought against them by the Waterfront for associating with an organized crime figure.  Now under the Pontoriero case it will be much hard for the Waterfront to revoke a license for “inimical association”, with a organized crime figure.

This is a public service blog provided by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq., and is not intended to give any specific legal advice regarding any specific case now before the Waterfront Commission or any case in the future.

If you have a case before the Waterfront Commission you are invited to contact the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., an experienced New Jersey-New York Waterfront lawyer who has represented numerous International Longshoreman Members, and longshoremen, checkers and maintenance personnel before the Waterfront Commission, for a consultation to discuss your case.

P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth (Union County), New Jersey 07207
(908) 354-7006

New Jersey New York Waterfront Attorney-Lawyer for the hardworking ILA members, longshoreman, checkers, maintenance men, who will protect your rights and fight and help you retain your job.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Defendant’s Right to Remain Silent at Sentencing In Municipal Court

It has been a custom is many municipal courts in New Jersey for the judge to turn to the defendant at the time of sentencing and ask the defendant as to his prior driving history.

This often occurs in the context DWI sentences, in which the prosecutor will inform the court that a search of the defendant’s abstract does not reveal any prior driving while intoxicated offenses.  Often the court will than turn to the defendant, whose represented by counsel, rather that is correct, and whether the defendant has been convicted of any DWI offenses in this or any other state. 

I am surprised that in many cases the defense attorney does sits quite without objecting to this line of questioning by the judge.  The defendant at the time of sentencing does not give up his 5th amendment right to remain silent.  Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2B:25-5.1 it is the prosecutor’s obligation to research the defendant’s prior driving record and report that information to the court.  Neither, defense counsel, or the defendant has any obligation to waive his  Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, or for the attorney to violate his attorney client privilege with his client to the court.

This blog is prepared as a public service by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq., and is not intended to provide any specific legal opinion or advice to anyone reading this blog.

P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207


“If you want peace work for justice.”

Press Release Hudson County Superior Court, December of 2014.

Defendant charged and indicted by a Hudson County Grand Jury with official misconduct (second degree) and theft (third degree).  Defendant facing a state prison sentence as follows.  For the official misconduct a consecutive sentence of 5-10 years to run consecutive to the third degree theft of 3-5 years. Total maximum state prison exposure of 15-years in state prison.

Appropriate pre-trial motions filed to the Superior Court Judge and the official misconduct count of the indictment is dismissed by court prior to trial. 

After a five day criminal jury trial in which the case was given to the jury for deliberation, and while the jury is still deliberating, the Hudson County Prosecutor offers the defendant PTI (pre-trial intervention program), without the payment of any restitution.

Final results: After a period of one-year the theft charge will be dismissed and the Defendant will move to have his arrest for these charges expunged, and he will have absolutely no criminal record of the arrest or of the charges which were dismissed.

The Defendant who was not guilty is vindicated by Attorney Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq. For a further review of the numerous criminal defense victories for Attorney Sanzone go to

The Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., providing competent and vigorous criminal defense representation for 25-years in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Hudson, Essex, Union, Somerset, Bergen, Passaic, Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex counties.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
(908) 354-7006

Ipse dixit, which is translated from Latin to English, “we already decided you are bad.”  Why do the police and/or prosecutor always decided that the defendant committed the crime without knowing all the facts of the case?  Willful blindness is never justice.  Authentic Justice requires that before anyone is charged with a crime that the charging authorities honestly and fairly investigate the alleged unlawful activity.  All too often law enforcement rushes to judgment “to put a feather in their cap” and close a file.