Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Detention of Motorist after a Motor Vehicle Stop Without Further Probable Cause Is Unlawful United States Supreme Court Says.

In Rodriguez vs. United States decided on January 21, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that detaining a motorist after a motor vehicle stop has been concluded violated the motorist’s Fourth Amendment rights to unreasonable search and seizure and all the narcotics seized would have to be suppressed.

In this case Mr. Rodriguez refused to consent to have a drug sniffing dog walk around his vehicle. Accordingly, the police officer on the scene called for backup. The court following Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. 405, 407 (2005) held that the authority for the police to seize a motor vehicle during a motor vehicle stop for a traffic infraction ends when it did, or reasonable should have ended.  In Illinois v. Caballes the court held that it is permissible to have a drug sniffing dog sniff the exterior of the automobile during the automobile stop.

However, in Rodriguez v. United States the court held that permitting such K9 sniffing can only occur during the period of time of the automobile stop period, which must be a reasonable time period.  In other words, as long as it was reasonable to make the stop, obtain driving credentials, and issue the motor vehicle summons.  Any delay without further probable cause would be unreasonable and therefore unlawful.  The Fourth Amendment does not permit unrelated investigations that lengthen the roadside detention.  Waiting for a K9 dog sniff would be such a prolonged further investigation that is not permitted unless further reasonable suspicion or probable cause can be found.

In this case the patrol officer who conducted the motor vehicle stop had in his patrol vehicle a K9 drug sniffing dog.  After the motor vehicle ticket was issued, the officer asked Rodriguez whether he would permit his K9 to walk around his vehicle.  Rodriguez said no.  Because of the refusal the officer called for back-up, and in about 8-minutes a second officer arrived and the K9 walk around took place.  The court held that without consent the 8-minute wait for the second officer was unreasonable and the CDS (controlled dangerous substances) found in Rodriguez vehicle was suppressed.  What is very remarkable in this case is that the court said that only an 8-minute delay was unreasonable.

This case is very helpful to the defense because often local and State police departments will detain motorist for long time periods in order to secure to scene of the motor vehicle stop drug sniffing K9 unit.  This case is clear and sets forth a bright line rule that any detention outside the normal motor vehicle stop is no longer permitted.  This case however does not address the issue as to how long that period of time would be if the police have additional reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain the motorist.

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Unjust Imprisonment of Father Gordon MacRae

The unjust imprisonment and suffering of Catholic priests at the hands of communist, fascist and other evil despots has and will unfortunately never end. Of course, let us not forget that Jesus Christ himself told his apostles that the world will hate them as they hated him.  Let us not forget also that Christ was falsely accused and condemned because one man, Pontius Pilate, like most of us, did not have the courage to stand up against the hysterical crowd which did not know, or want to know the truth. As our Lord taught, “The Son of Man came ... not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28)

When such persecutions occur there is little if anything that the Church can do.  What if anything even our Holy Father, Pope Francis can do to stop the daily killing of Christians throughout the world today?

However, such unjust punishments are not limited to these regimes, and one such travesty of injustice which has been occurring for the last 21-years, right here in the United States, is the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of Father Gordon MacRae.  In 1994 this young and dedicated priest was sentenced by a New Hampshire state judge to the draconian sentence of 33 ½ to 67-years, a virtual life sentence.  Because Father MacRae before trial had refused to admit to a crime in which he did not commit and take a plea offer, or while in prison make such an admission of guilt, Father Gordon will probably never be paroled from prison, and is likely to die in jail for a crime which he did not commit.    

Any reasonable person examining the trial with any degree of fairness cannot come to the conclusion that the prosecution and continuing imprisonment of Father Gordon is not only a personal tragedy for this good and holy priest, all the clergy and the faithful, but also, a blight on our criminal justice system which refuses to acknowledge the mistake that was made.  The machine of the criminal justice system of the State of New Hampshire will never attempt to re-examine this case, and rectify it. 
It is without dispute that our society in general is quick to condemn someone accused of committing a crime.  This is especially true, when it is an allegation of a sexual crime, and even more especially true when the accuser claims that it occurred at the hands of a Catholic priest. No serious thinker, even one with the most law enforcement conservative mindset, would deny that for the last 25-years, that the deck has been stacked against any priest charged with a sexual offense, and that it is virtually impossible for a priest in the Catholic Church to be judged fairly by a jury, or for that matter a judge.

During the period of time of Father Gordon persecution there was a climate of national hysteria regarding any allegation of sexual offenses, true or false, on anyone under 18-years of age, especially a Catholic priest by the public in general, but especially true of the salacious media which fueled such hysteria. Such a climate made it virtually impossible for a jury to apply the reasonable doubt standard and such juries were and are prone to believe any allegation of sexual misconduct no matter how bizarre the allegations are.  Many legal scholars who have examined this period of child sexual hysteria of the 1980’s and 1990’s equate this period to the Salem witch trials of the seventeenth century.  The prosecution of Father MacRae was fueled by media hype and media sensationalism which cares little about civil liberties and the presumption of innocence when it comes to allegations of an alleged Catholic sexual abuse case.

Further, at the time of Father MacRae’s prosecution, as one court put it: “[A] series of highly questionable child sex abuse prosecutions ... were fueled by a vast moral panic ... a period in which allegations of outrageously bizarre and often ritualistic child abuse spread like wildfire across the country and garnered world-wide media attention.” “[T]remendous emotion [was] generated by the public” as a result of which “the criminal process often fail[ed]....” Friedman v. Rehal, 618 F.3d 142, 155, 158 (2 Cir. 2010

The genesis of the criminal prosecution of Father Gordon is no different than the ingredients in most other wrongful convictions.  The convergence of factors in this case was a perfect storm for this wrongful conviction.  In the wake of these factors, Father Gordon had zero chance of receiving a fair trial, and being acquitted of the false charges at trial.  As a practicing criminal defense attorney involved in many such cases over the last 25-years, any defendant charged with such a crime must actually prove his or her innocence’s.  The scared duty that a jury is charged with in a criminal case, that being, that the defendant is innocent, and that the prosecution has the burden of proving that the defendant is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, and that the defendant has no burden of proof whatsoever, is often ignored in these types of cases.

To begin with the evidence is overwhelming that the false criminal allegations were brought by a sophisticated-manipulative young man, who had a financial motive to lie.  Second, this accuser was trained and couched during the entire criminal process by his civil attorney who was seeking a large payday from the dioceses of Manchester. This accuser, who had a long history of alcohol and drug abuse, as well as involvement in the juvenile criminal justice system, had a long history of opportunistic and manipulative lying.  Years later after the verdict it was discovered that Father MacRae’s accuser would brag to friends and family members how he manipulated the criminal justice system and the dioceses.  The entire prosecution of Father MacRae hinged upon the inconsistent, contradictory, and incredulous testimony of this one accuser.  Being a young priest, Father Gordon only mistake was trying to help this young man who had no family support and was heading down the path to destruction.

In the early 1990’s it was common knowledge in New Hampshire, like all of the dioceses in the United States, that the Diocese of New Hampshire was paying huge sums of money to any young man claiming to have been abused by their priests.  Further, that the Diocese was making these payments without conducting any investigations to determine the validity of the claims.  In short, it was a windfall for predatory civil personal injury attorneys making money off the backs of faithful parishioners, and a dream come true for scammers and fraudsters looking to cash in.  Such was the person of Tom Grover, a foster-child of the Grover’s, who sought the help of Father Gordon to counsel and help their child.  Grover’s parents without any recourse struggled with their son who suffered from alcohol and drug abuse as well as mental health problems and frequent run-ins with the law.  Many years later when Grover became aware of the large amounts of money that the Diocese was paying out, Grover, saw his opportunity to make a large amount of money, by thanking Father Gordon for all the that he had done for him by weaving a string of lies which would be impossible for Father Gordon to refute.

Notwithstanding that there was not a single witness accept Grover, and Grover’s story bordered on the absurd, since he claimed that he was assaulted by Father Gordon in non-private areas, the New Hampshire Diocese paid him nearly $200,000.00. 
Based on legal papers submitted in federal court, credible witnesses have now been located and have come forwarded willing to testify that Grover admitted committing perjury at trial, and bragging about how he scammed the diocese and the criminal justice system.  Grover’s former wife, and step-son, have admitted that Grover was a “compulsive liar”, “manipulator”, “drama queen” and “hustler”, who has a long history of lying to get what he wanted.  When confronted with his lies, Gover “would lose his temper”, and admit himself into the psychiatric unit at the Elliott Hospital.  While seek “help”, Gover would accuse others of molesting him as well.  Grover accused other clergyman, his foster father and baby sitters when he was a child.  In addition to Grover’s psychological and alcohol and drug addition, Grover had an extensive criminal history prior to making his false allegations against Father Gordon.  Grover was arrested and convicted for two burglary, two forgery, and two thefts. theft by deception, assault on a police officer, and aggravated assault on his former wife, when he broke her nose during one of many beatings that he administered to her. Lastly, his former wife considered him a sexual predator, and never left her two daughters from another relationship alone with him while they were living together because of the way he would constantly eye and grope them.

In April of 2005, when the lead detective James McLaughlin was confronted with these sobering facts about Grover in the Wall Street Journal article about the unjust conviction of Father Gordon.  In response to his botched and incompetent investigation of Father Gordon, McLaughlin made himself a self-appointed psychologist and responded remarkably by saying. “So we had all these elevated activities with our male victims, so in a sense, when you have a victim present that has this baggage, it's corroborative of their victimization,"  Story of Jailed Priest Retold”, The Union Leader (Manchester NH) April 28, 2005

At trial Grover lied and told the jury that he needed money from his law suit from the Diocese for therapy because of the “abuse.”  However, after his $200,000.00, payday and after the trial was over, Grover did not attend one therapy session but took his former wife to Arizona, where he blew it all on alcohol, drugs, cars, pornography and gambling.  In fact on that trip he lost about $70,000.00 on a Las Vegas gambling junket.  In addition, he stiffed the casino another $50.000.00 on a credit line which he fraudulently applied for by providing false information about his job and income.  The casino eventually attempted to collect with a collection action which was unsuccessful.  His wife finally left him in 1998 when the money was gone, and Grover was caught in bed with her biological sister.

At trial Grover’s testimony did not boarder on the absurd it was absurd.  His shifty testimony was fantastic, nonsensical and contradictory.  When he was spoon-fed by the direct questioning by the prosecutor he was able recite his rehearsed testimony.  However, on cross-examination it was far different.  Every time he was trapped in a lie or inconsistent statement he fell back on his rehearsed line, by saying the question:  “overloads my mind and.... leaves me more or less in shock for days after....” When Grover was confronted as to why he did not report the abuse for 10-years, and until he spoke to his civil attorneys, he claimed that he repressed the abuse, and it was “difficult to talk [about it] in front of people”

The fundamental question must be asked about our criminal justice system; how could any reasonable jury, who has the  sworn duty to acquit Father Gordon, find him guilty under this type of incredulous testimony.  The State had the burden of proving beyond any reasonable doubt of Father Gordon’s guilt.  How could they have gotten it so wrong?  In other words, before a jury could find him guilty they would have to have found Grover’s testimony completely credible. Under our criminal justice system no competent and reasonable jury should have found this type of testimony sufficient to convict a Catholic Priest who had previous to these series of false allegations had never been convicted of anything but a traffic moving violation.

Not unlike other unjust conviction, the law enforcement investigation of Father Gordon was not only overzealous but was intentionally unfair.  The lead detective McLaughlin was not interested in a fair and impartial investigation but rather was only interested in creating and spinning the facts to support his and eventually the prosecutions theory of the case.  In addition, McLaughlin also suppressed any facts which clearly pointed out that Father Gordon was innocent of the false allegations made by the accuser. McLaughlin engaged in investigating this matter in a way that was patently unfair and used his power as a law enforcement officer to suppress witnesses who were willing to testify for Father Gordon.

To make matter worst Father Gordon’s bishop at the time of his trial did not support Father Gordon but in fact allowed his office to issue a press release prior to trial which literally condemned Father Gordon.  This misstatement by the bishop did two things; first, the bishop caved into public pressure, and help fuel the media hysteria, and second, it unquestionably tainted the potential jury pool, insuring the prosecution of a conviction.  The bishop did not stand up for one of his priest’s with courage, but rather retreated to bureaucratic-clericalism, more worried about pleasing his civil lawyers, insurance carrier and the potential civil liability of the diocese.  Hence, the bishop either negligently or intentionally treated Father Gordon as an expendable temporary employee.  This abandonment by the diocese has continued 21-years later. The bishop’s technique accomplished nothing because the diocese paid out, without conducting any independent investigation, monetary awards to Father Gordon accuser.  The greater cost of course for the diocese and its bishop was its betrayal of filial and fraternal trust to Father Gordon which under canon law he was obligated to maintain at the minimum, pre-verdict.  Not only was Father Gordon not able to count on his bishop for support, but the bishop, negligently or intentionally acted in such a way as to give the message to the public that Father Gordon was guilty.  Whether or not Father Gordon was sacrificed by the bishop on the altar of insurance considerations and their lawyers only the bishop could answer that question.  To date it is conservatively estimated that the Church in the United States has paid 2.5 billion in claims because of the sexual abuse scandal.  How many of these claims were outright false which the United States dioceses paid out is only a guess.  In any case, at the behest of the insurance carrier, or out of the lack of any compassion for one of his own, the bishop distances himself from Father MacRae and left him on his own.

If the cards were not already stacked against Father Gordon  his criminal defense attorney at trial was no help.  At trial Father Gordon was represented by a New Mexico criminal attorney, Ron Koch, who became deceased in the year 2000, at the age of 49.  Although this attorney did his best to defend Father Gordon, he nevertheless made critical trial errors which hurt Father Gordon’s defense and opened the door for the prosecutor to introduce prejudicial evidence which the trial judge had already ruled was inadmissible and not relevant.  Mr. Koch was forced to split his time between his active criminal practice in New Mexico and preparing for Father’s Gordon’s trial, which Mr. Koch was unable to do.  Accordingly, unable to do both, Mr. Koch failed to conduct important pretrial discovery and adequate preparation of the case for trial.  Accordingly, it is without dispute that Father Gordon’s trial counsel was unprepared and out matched, and under these facts Father Gordon’s trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective, and accordingly Father Gordon’s constitutional rights to procedural due process and a fair trial were eviscerated.  Mr. Koch failed to interview critical witnesses for the defense, failed to subpoena critical witnesses for the defense, failed to go to the scene in which Grove alleged that he had been touched, and lastly, preserve attorney-client privileged documents which Koch turned over to the prosecution.
Many people unfamiliar with the criminal justice system in the United States believe that the criminal justice eventually corrects an unjust conviction.  This sadly is the exception and not the rule.  Under our judicial system the jury verdict is final, and most appeals, regardless as to the justice of the verdict are denied.  Father Gordon is going on his 22-years of imprisonment.  Every appeal has been rejected, every judge hearing his case has turned their back on his pleas for justice.  On March 17, 2015, a federal district court judge who many had high hopes would grant Father MacRae’s writ of habeas corpus, instead granted the State of New Hampshire’s motion to dismiss on the pleadings.  The judge did not even grant Father Gordon an evidential hearing on Father Gordon's claim of innocence.  Father’s Gordon appeal to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals is tenuous at best.  Aside from a miracle or pardon from the Governor of New Hampshire or the President of the United States, it is most likely that Father Gordon will die a martyr’s death in prison, or if lucky, be release a very old man.

The Catholic Church cannot bring the fullness of the truth without its priests.  Every priest in the Church, good, bad, or indifferent, has been selected by God for this mission. The Church has no alternative but to pursue and fight for authentic justice, and it must start with Father Gordon.  No pope, cardinal, bishop, priest, and faithful laity can sit by and permit this injustice to continue.  Diabolic advocacy and persecution of the Church has and will continue.  Satin knows its enemy, and his enemy is the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and in particular its clergy. Satin’s relentless pursuit against the only game in town, the only institutional defender of natural law in the entire world, from the moment of conception to the natural death is the Church.

St. John Vianney, the patron of parish priests, understood this all to well, who also was subjected to outrageous lies about his character, when he made the profound statement over 150 years ago: “When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer any priest, there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice, there is no religion.”

At the end of our brief temporal life all of us will be judged for what we “did and failed to do”; did we all do what is “right and just?”

Vincent James Sanzone, Jr., Esq., is a lover of his Catholic faith, a practicing criminal defense attorney in New Jersey for the last 25-years.  Attorney Sanzone is a member of the New Jersey Bar Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and the Legal Center for Defense of Life.  He is admitted to the bar in the State of New Jersey, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. Federal Appeals Courts for the Third and Fourth Circuits.  In addition, he has been admitted to practice pro hac vice in Southern District of New York, and Federal District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.  Attorney Sanzone has argued successfully before the New Jersey Supreme Court, and has tried hundreds of criminal trials in his 25-year as a criminal defense attorney.  Many of his clients were minority young men and women whom were acquitted of all the charges at trial and went on to live exemplary lives.

“... for the ones with great difficulty and no clear evidence of success plot away at the task of awakening in just a few men, a small spark of faith, of hope, and of charity.” Karl Rahner, S.J.

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rare Appellate Division Case Which Debunks Often Used Municipal Court Rational for Finding Defendant Guilty of Traffic Violation

Prepared as a Public Service to the People by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.

A very interesting case was recently decided by the appellate division, State v. Duque, (unpublished decided April 6, 2015), in which the panel held that the rational used to find the defendant guilty of a traffic violation was incorrect, and accordingly, reversed the conviction.

In this case the Bergenfield municipal judge found the defendant guilty because he found the police officer credible.  Specifically, the municipal court judge held that he was familiar with the officer from other cases and because the officer had no motive to issue an erroneous charge against the defendant.  However, the municipal court judge did not address the fact that the police officer might have been mistaken, and why the evidence presented by the defendant, through testimony, and pictures was not persuasive.  As the court held, “The first of these reasons was an improper consideration by the trial court, and the second not sufficient by itself to reach a credibility determination in favor of the officer.”

In appellate panel went on to state that the defendant in this case, “had neither an opportunity to challenge the officer's testimony in other cases nor the ability to prove herself also a credible witness in the judge's eyes over the course of a number of different matters. In addition, the fact that a charge was brought by the officer does not in itself lend credibility to the testimony that supports that charge. Such a basis for judging credibility flies in the face of the presumption of innocence and the prosecution's burden to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Dively, 92 N.J. 573, 585 (1983).”
This is a great decision because municipal court traffic attorneys have experienced hundreds of cases in which the municipal court judge seeking away to find a defendant guilty in spite of overwhelming evidence that the police officer was lying or mistaken, would simply use these two standard excuses to find the defendant guilty.

The Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq., is not a high-volume practice.  Attorney Sanzone does not accept every case, because I am personally responsible for all aspects of each case.  I take a limited number of clients, so that each criminal and traffic case receives the time and attention needed to produce the best legal work possible. Also, by only taking a limited number of cases at any given time, provides me the opportunity to explain the legal process, the law, an the strategies with which each aspect of the process will be addressed.

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor and the “Perjury Trap”

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel slammed the Waterfront Commission for creating a “perjury trap” in order to nail Dominick DiNapoli, who was convicted last June on five counts of lying to investigators.

“It is clear that the Waterfront Commission was so focused on alleged perjury with respect to minutia, that the Commission lost sight of the forest . . . for the trees,” Zweibel wrote, in reversing the conviction.

Although the Waterfront Commission pursued Mr. DiNapoli with a vigorous, or some might say, viperous prosecution, Judge Zweibel, so the case for what it really was, “a perjury trap.”

Longshoremen, Checkers, Security and Maintenance-man should never appear for an Article IV interview without first consulting with an experienced Waterfront Commission Lawyer.

By-in-large the Waterfront Commission performs its statutory duty, under the Waterfront Act, to protect the ports from criminal activity and influence with fairness and professionalism, and has no desire to take away the livelihood of any of the good men and woman who work everyday in the ports of New Jersey and New York.  However, having said that, any Longshoremen, Checker, Maintenance-man or security personnel, being called down for an Article IV interview must understand that there is a specific reason why the worker is being called in by the Waterfront Commission.  Accordingly, the worker must understand his rights, or lack of rights, during these interviews, and understand that he or she must be extremely careful in every response given, so as not to intentionally, or unintentionally, give a answer which the Waterfront Commission might consider to amount to perjury.  All interviews are under oath, and perjury is a crime punishable in New Jersey or New York, depending on the circumstances. 

If you are being called to the Waterfront Commission for an Article IV interview, or any interview, you owe it to yourself to consult an experienced Waterfront Attorney, who has been practicing waterfront commission law for 29 years with successful results.

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

April 8, 2015

Quote of the Day: “Innocence, not revenge, undoes violence. In a world that refuses to admit objective justice, the innocent can be put forward as guilty by the guilty, as long as the guilty are loud and ubiquitous enough.” Author unknown.

Interesting facts about Elizabeth, N.J.  Princeton University was founded and had its first building erected in Elizabeth, N.J., in the year 1746.  The site of Princeton’s first building was on Broad Street, next to the First Presbyterian Church, the site of the Old School House, in which Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr attended grammar school together. And you thought Elizabeth was only about Port Elizabeth.

Friday, April 3, 2015

High School Chaperones Cannot Be Prosecuted In New Jersey For Oversees Class Trip In Which It Was Alleged That They Engaged In Sexual Contact With Students.

In a recent New Jersey Supreme Court case, State v. Sumulikoski, the court held that alleged criminal activity conducted oversees on a class trip could not be prosecuted in New Jersey.  In this case both the trial court and appellate division held that N.J.S.A. 2C:1-3(a)(1) conferred such jurisdiction.  Reversing, the Supreme Court held that because all of the alleged actions occurred oversees the proper jurisdiction, if any, should be Germany, and not New Jersey.

It is strange how this case had to be correctly decided by the Supreme Court, both the trial court and appellate division were dead wrong in holding that N.J.S.A. 2C:1-3(a)(1) conferred jurisdiction to the New Jersey courts for a crime that allegedly had been committed in Germany.  This is especially troubling because Germany's criminal laws are dis-similar to the criminal laws of New Jersey?  For example, in Germany the age for consensual sexual contact is 14-years of age, while New Jersey it is 18-years of age.  Further, the nightmare for defense counsel trying to investigate the alleged crime scene, interview witnesses, or call witnesses to testify at trial would be impossible.  All of these procedural issues would of course deny the defendant a fair trial.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that he did not do justice, he just did the law.  Isn't that the real problem with our legal system.  Often law and justice work at cross-purposes, one thing has nothing to do with the other.  Law without authentic justice is a game, charade or a tool for social injustice for the poor and marginalized. 

If you have been charged with a sexual crime in Essex, Union, Hudson, Somerset, Morris, Ocean, and Monmouth County you must consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.

277 North Broad Street
P.O. Box 261
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
(908) 354-7006

Quote of the Day:  “For every wise owl you may expect a few cuckoos.” Rev. George William Rutler