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Criminal Conviction Reversed on NJ Appeal


by in Criminal Appeals

In this NJ criminal appeal, the defendant was able to convince the Appellate Division to reverse his conviction by arguing that the trial judge should have continued his trial to allow his witness to testify.

State v. Derek A. Clark, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-1083-08T4 (December 2, 2009) – Conviction reversed. “Defendant testified that four days before the police executed the warrant for the search of his home, a friend of his named Antwan Allison came to his house and told him he needed to put some items in defendant’s safe while he went to visit his wife in the hospital….

We conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant’s application for a one-day continuance of the trial to afford defendant an opportunity to produce Allison as a defense witness, and that defendant made a sufficient showing of prejudice as a result of that denial to require a reversal of his conviction and a retrial….

[D]efense counsel stated at a pretrial conference that the prosecutor’s office had taken a video statement from Allison, and the assistant prosecutor did not dispute that Allison’s testimony would be supportive of the defense. Under all these circumstances, the trial judge abused his discretion in refusing to grant a one-day continuance of the trial until Monday or even to explore the feasibility of such a continuance or other steps that would have enabled defendant to call Allison as a witness.” (John W. Hartmann)

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