Judge Acts As Judge, Jury and Prosecutor in Theft Case
- February 12, 2014
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Linden Municipal Court Judge DiLeo denied the requests of Anthony and Wendell Kirkland for appointed public defenders in their theft case and then conducted the trial without a prosecutor present. The judge went so far as to take on the prosecutor’s role by undertaking direct examination of the police officers, thereby eliciting the information he felt should be heard, and cross-examining the defendants. The Kirklands were charged with attempting to steal tires from a vehicle. Initially, they sought private counsel then later requested public defenders. The judge found the defendants to have waived their right to counsel. At the trial, the judge invited the Kirklands to participate in cross-examination of the police officers testifying and also to present testimony on their own behalf. The Kirklands presented no testimony or witnesses yet the judge allowed the officers to cross-examine the Kirklands. At the close of this farce, DiLeo found the defendants guilty of theft of moveable property, possession of burglary tools and possession of under 50 grams of marijuana and sentenced them to county jail terms. By the time NJ Superior Court Judge Scott Moynihan heard the Kirklands’ appeal, resulting in dismissal of the drug charges and remand to the municipal court for a hearing on the remaining theft charges, the Kirklands had spent 124 days in the Union County jail. This case resulted in a new standard for imposition of punishment on judges for misconduct on the bench. When a reasonable person would find the conduct of the judge to be obviously and seriously wrong, contrary to clearly determined law without question as to interpretation, egregious and made in bad faith or as part of a pattern of error. If you have been accused of a crime, you cannot rely on the legal system to protect your rights. Although the system is designed, on its face, to protect the interests of both the state and the accused, the prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in your case are human and fallible. For more information about theft, burglary, possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) or other criminal charges in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.