Two cousins will receive $575,000 and a new trial in Linden, New Jersey after a court found their civil rights were violated in a case from 2010.
The criminal justice system involves many different players to ensure that the rights of defendants are adequately protected. The prosecutor represents the state in bringing charges and working to prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants also have the right to be represented by legal counsel to ensure they have a proper defense against their charges. This representation can be by a private attorney or a public defender if the defendant cannot afford a private lawyer. The jury serves as fact-finders at a trial and the judge is intended to be a neutral party who oversees the proceedings.
The judge in the Linden case arraigned two men on charges of stealing and possession of marijuana. The judge told the defendants that they could not get a public defender once they realized they couldn’t afford to hire their own private attorney. Instead, the judge said they had to go to trial.
At the trial, there was no prosecutor, defense counsel, or even a jury present. Instead, the judge took on the role of the prosecutor and conducted the examination of the police officer involved himself. He made the defendants act as their own attorneys and cross-examine the officer themselves. The judge refused to allow them to call their own witnesses and found them guilty and sentenced them to 180 days in jail, probation, and fines.
The defendants then filed a claim against the city stating that their civil rights were violated in numerous ways:
- They were denied the right to a public defender
- Because of their probation sentence, the maximum jail time should have been 90 days
- They were denied an impartial trial
The court agreed that the judge violated the rights of the defendants, who had their marijuana charges dropped and will receive a new trial for the stealing allegations. They were also awarded $575,000 for the violations of their rights and time spent in jail.
While the above judge was removed from his position, it is important to realize that many other judges can violate criminal procedures and the rights of defendants. The law gives defendants the right to seek compensation for harm caused by state actors – including judges and prosecutors.
Call 732-238-8686 today for more information.
If you believe that your civil rights have been violated by police officers, prosecutors, or a judge, you should discuss your option with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. David C. Barry, Attorney at Law is here to help you, so please call the office at 732-204-7387 or contact us online to learn more.