On May 12, 2017, the family of a 23 year-old man contacted my office to talk about his criminal case. This young man was in a difficult position as he had a Trial Date in the Essex County Courthouse due to begin in three days. He was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Handgun, Certain Persons not to Possess a Weapon and Possession of Marijuana. The family contacted my office because they were afraid that their current Public Defender had not adequately represented their son for the two years the case was going on and certainly not comfortable with that lawyer at trial.
After several phone calls, my office was able to determine that the Trial in this case was in fact scheduled the following Monday and the Judge would not agree to adjourn the case. Obviously, it is not ideal for an attorney to get involved in a criminal trial barely 72 hours before it is due to start, with the Defendant facing over 10 years in State prison, but in this case I felt compelled to represent this young man as I had previously represented some family members with success. On Monday May 15, 2017, I appeared in Court and began to pick the jury for the trial in this case. Prior to my representation, the best offer to this young man from the State had been offered 5 years in New Jersey State Prison.
Briefly, the facts of the case were that my client was standing on a dimly lit street in Newark, New Jersey that is known to the police to have high levels of criminal activity. The Police claimed that as they approached the driveway where my client was standing, he threw the gun in a backyard and dropped the marijuana in the driveway. The Police recovered a gun and a small amount of marijuana from the scene.
After a day and a half of jury selection and two days of testimony the case went to the Jury. We waited approximately an hour to hear from the jury. As the Judge was about to adjourn for the day there was a knock on the jury room door with a verdict. After several minutes of getting everything ready in the Courtroom the Judge called out the Jury to render its verdict. Even though I believed strongly in our case, the last few moments right before a jury verdict are always nerve racking because your client’s freedom is hanging in the balance of that decision.
The Jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty on all counts and my client walked out of Court without the stigma of a conviction and more importantly he walked out of court the same way he walked in: a free man.