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Defendant’s NJ Conviction Reversed for Trial Errors


by in Criminal Appeals

In this recent criminal appeal, the defendant’s conviction was reversed because his defense attorney failed to request a Wade hearing and inflammatory comments by the prosecutor to the jury.

State v. Eddie Valentine, unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-4986-06T4 (February 2, 2010) – Conviction reversed. “We reverse the conviction and order a new trial due to the cumulative effect of the compounding missteps that occurred in the Law Division that appreciably erode our confidence in the jury’s verdict.

Significantly, because this case turned primarily upon the strength of the identification of defendant by the victim, we have reservations about the failure of defendant’s trial attorney to press for and obtain a Wade hearing. Although defendant did not testify in his own defense at trial, he presented an alibi defense and challenged the State’s claim that he was present at the time of the robbery.

These circumstances, along with multiple potentially problematic identification procedures employed by the police should have triggered the request for such a hearing by defense counsel, unless there was a reasonable strategic reason not to do so.

Given our uncertainty as to whether defendant was deprived of fundamental tools necessary to foster an adequate defense, in addition to our apprehension that the trial court may have unintentionally misled the jury during deliberations through an uncorrected slip of the tongue, along with certain inflammatory comments of the prosecutor, we reverse and remand for a new trial.” (Brian O’Reilly, Designated Counsel)

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