With Tuesday’s convictions in the criminal trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, has garnered five guilty pleas and 32 indicted individuals still pending. In addition, yesterday’s guilty plea in the S.D.N.Y., by Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer and self-styled fixer, admitting to making payments to two women who allegedly had affairs with President Trump in violation of campaign finance laws at the direction of the President along with other charges, demonstrate that our system of justice is working as it should.
NY & NJ Criminal Defense Law Blog
Rick Gates, Paul Manafort’s former business partner, is the star witness in the first trial resulting from the Special Counsel’s Russia collusion investigation in federal court in Virginia. Gates pled guilty to felony charges and agreed to testify against Manafort in an effort to receive a substantially reduced sentence. The government and defense agree on one thing – the cooperating defendant/witness is guilty of financial crimes, moral misdeeds and has lied repeatedly in the past. Despite that, Gates is on the witness stand, under oath testifying as a government witness in a highly publicized trial of great public interest.
With the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medicinal uses across the country, police and legislators are scrambling for accurate devices that can detect a person’s impairment for driving under the influence of marijuana. Most law enforcement agencies rely on observation and specific cognitive and field balance tests by certified drug recognition experts (DRE). However, none are scientifically accurate to detect the level of impairment.
When New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a memorandum yesterday ordering local prosecutors to temporarily halt marijuana prosecutions in municipal courts until September, news outlets, including the New York Times, called it a possible "step toward decriminalization." Amol Sinha, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey executive director, praised the move, stating that "[b]y directing prosecutors to pause adjudication of marijuana cases, this letter starts that [decriminalization] process." Marijuana trade magazines were even more effusive.
New Jersey, a small but densely populated State, has 21 counties and 565 municipalities. Right now there are 515 Municipal Courts - 316 have individual, stand-alone courts, 173 municipalities share services, while the remaining 76 municipalities have agreed to form 24 separate joint Municipal Courts. Each have their own judges, prosecutors, public defenders, court administrators and staff. Municipal courts handle approximately 6 million cases a year -- motor vehicle summonses, violations of municipal ordinances and minor criminal matters.
Tags: NJ Municipal Court
After more than two years of careful research and deliberation, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) released The Trial Penalty: The Sixth Amendment Right to Trial on the Verge of Extinction and How to Save It. The “trial penalty” refers to the substantial difference between the sentence offered prior to trial versus the sentence a defendant receives after a conviction at trial. This penalty is now so severe and pervasive that it has virtually eliminated the constitutional right to a trial. The report notes that to avoid the trial penalty, defendants must surrender fundamental rights which are essential to a fair justice system. The release of this report has garnered support from leading criminal justice reform entities, all of which agree that the incursion on the right to a trial poses a clear threat to justice.
In Fox News coverage of the one-year anniversary of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, In Kaitlyn Schallhorn's May 17, 2018 coverage of Michael Flynn's legal options, Ms.Schallhorn quotes Mr. Stahl:
Robert Stahl, a white-collar criminal defense attorney in New York and New Jersey, told Fox News withdrawing a guilty plea “is extremely rare and very difficult.”
Headlines and tweets coming out of Washington have put a spotlight on law enforcement’s use of informants, now known in federal parlance as “confidential human sources” or CHS. Putting aside the political theater and self-serving spin of the “criminal deep state” and the planting of spies, how are informants used in every day investigations?
Using human sources (informants) to collect information is common throughout municipal, state and federal investigations. Informants are either individuals who have been charged with their own crimes and have agreed to cooperate in the hopes for reduced charges or sentence based upon that cooperation, or are people who are paid for their information and access to criminal groups or activities. The use of confidential human sources is expressly encouraged by the guidelines that cover the FBI’s behavior.
Tags: Criminal Investigation
While most people consider themselves unlikely to become the subject of a police investigation, there is one common situation in which ordinary citizens fall under police scrutiny: the traffic stop. Police officers are trained to search for evidence of illegal activity every time they pull over a driver, whatever the reason for the stop. While the consequences for speeding, failure to maintain lane, careless driving or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can be bad enough – carrying the possibility of loss of driving privileges, assessment of motor vehicle points and higher insurance rates – things become far more serious if the police search for and find illegal drugs in a car. Teenagers and young adults – who are presumed by police to be more likely to be in possession of illegal recreational drugs – are often the targets of such searches late at night, while driving to and from wherever it is that teenagers actually disappear to when they leave the house to “hang out with friends.”