Bergen County Lawyer
NJ Appeals Courts and Appellate Law
NJ Appeals law is perhaps the most complex and demanding area in the criminal defense arena. The NJ Court of Appeals does not make a determination of a defendant’s guilt or innocence. Merely, it is a through and complete review of the NJ Municipal Courts or NJ Superior Courts trial process to determine whether the trial was fair and evidence was admitted or excluded properly.
To begin with, when a lawyer is defending a person on trial, it is important to note that trial work is very difficult. The attorneys who represent the NJ Prosecutors and NJ Attorney General’s office lays out their version of the facts of the case first. Basically, NJ Assistant DA will try to prove that Fact A + Fact B + Fact C + Fact D can only equal guilty.
However, it is up to the defense to show that those set of facts do not equal guilt. But if you actually dissect a NJ criminal case, you will see that the Criminal Defense attorney and the judge are quite hard at work.
While the Assistant prosecutor or District attorney is questioning a witness, the defense lawyer must remember the questions asked and the witnesses’ response. Typically the defense attorney takes notes to help him remember and prepare for the cross-examination of that witness.
However, at the same time he is writing and formulating his own questions, the next series of questions are asked. And, the defense attorney still needs to remember the witness’s answers while formulating the next cross-examination questions.
At the same time, the Judge has to take notes also. He has to deal with the witness, the attorneys, and the jury. He is constantly ruling on what evidence and what testimony should be allowed in order to effectuate a fair trial. Evidence presented must qualify under the NJ Court Rules to be admitted into evidence or barred.
At the same time, specific witness’s or their testimony may also be banned. Attorneys constantly offer into evidence the testimony that benefits their clients, while the other attorney will object to it. The judge agrees with the objection and either can sustain the objection or overrule it.
With all this happening at the same time during a trial, it is easy to how mistakes can be made. No trial is really perfect, there are always mistakes. Some trial mistakes are what the Appellate Court calls “Harmless Error”. However, there are times that the damage is so bad that it calls for a mistrial. The trail court judges, whether they are Municipal Court Judges or Superior Court Judges, mistakes are made. The NJ Appellate Courts function is to review the trail court record and make a decision on whether the trial was fair.The Appeals Court does not adjudicate guilt or innocence. It merely decides on the fairness of the trail. If the Appellate Court determines that the trail was fair, than it will “Uphold the Conviction”. If however, the NJ Appellate Court determines that the trail was ultimately unfair or otherwise “prejudicial”, that it may overturn the lower courts finding. The case then gets remanded back to the trial court to retry the case or address the issues that made the first trial unfair. Remember that the Appellate Court only reviews what has been placed on the record my the trial court and the evidence that was admitted in the underlying trial.
Appellete work takes a lot of time, patience and skill. If the NJ Municipal Court or NJ Superior Court has ruled against you in a case, it may be worth your time to speak to us today. Call the Law Offices of Ron Bar-Nadav today at (201) 525-1555