Monday, April 8, 2019

Jury Selections are Open to the Family and Public

The trial judge cannot bar the public or family members or friends from criminal jury trials during jury selections, and if so, calls for automatic reversal.

The New Jersey appellate division has held repeatedly that barring the public from the court room, even during jury selections is impermissible and calls for an automatic reversal in the event of a conviction.  In numerous occasions, criminal convictions have been reversed when this happens.  State v. Cuccio, State v. Clark Simon, (which was a case which I tried and was reversed for this reason by the appellate division) to name a few.

Rule 1:8-3(g) provides that the trial judge must allow the public access to the court room during all stages of the proceedings.  The rule provides in pertinent part:
(g) Jury Selection Must be Conducted in Open Court. Subject to (1) and (2) below, the public must be provided reasonable access to the courtroom during the jury selection portion of the trial. (1) Exclusion of Public from Courtroom; Compelling Reasons; Alternatives. The trial judge may not exclude the public from the courtroom unless there is a compelling need to do so. In making that determination, the trial judge shall first consider reasonable alternatives, such as holding jury selection in a larger courtroom, if one is available. If there are compelling reasons to exclude the public from the courtroom, the judge shall consider alternative ways to permit observation, including electronic means. The trial judge shall issue a statement of reasons for limiting or denying public access to jury selection. (2) Voir Dire of Individual Jurors. The requirement of public access.

Prepared as a public service by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq. Fighting for the criminal accused for 29-years.

Possession with intent, aggregation of amounts no longer permitted in federal prosecutions

Prepared as a public service from the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Elizabeth, New Jersey, a criminal defense attorney fighting for your acquittal.
(Telephone, 908-354-7006)

In United States v. Rowe, a federal appeals court reversed a 1,000 grams of heroin case based on the fact that the defendant was engaged in numerous smaller sales.
The Third Circuit held that the Prosecutor can no longer aggregate the sales.  In this case the court held that it was improper for the government to add up several smaller possessions and distributions to reach the 1,000 gram level.

In order to convict the defendant for possession with intent to distribute the thousand grams the defendant had to possess and intent to distribute this amount at a single time.

Although this law does not apply in New Jersey it should because many prosecutions of larger quantities of CDS is made by the State adding up all the quantities to reach the over 5 ounce level.

The court turned to the reasoning in U.S. v. Benjamin (possession of handgun case), and held “we conclude that possession of 1,000 grams of heroin begins when a defendant has the power and intention to exercise dominion and control over all 1,000 grams, and ends when his possession is interrupted by a complete dispossession or by a reduction of that quantity to less than 1,000 grams.”

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., practicing criminal defense for 29 years.