New Jersey’s and Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Statement on Gov. Murphy’s Veto of Legislation Repealing Mandatory Minimums for Certain Offenses

posted May 7, 2021, 11:19 AM by ACDL-NJ Administrator

West Allenhurst, NJ (April 20, 2021) – The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Christopher W. Adams and the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey (ACDL-NJ) President Aidan P. O’Connor released the following statement after Governor Murphy conditionally vetoed bill S3456 to repeal mandatory minimums for certain crimes.
Christopher W. Adams, President, NACDL & Aidan P. O’Connor, President, ACDL-NJ:

"Mandatory minimum sentencing statutes undermine the values of our criminal legal system, weaken judicial discretion in individual cases, and give prosecutors overwhelming power to bargain prison terms via coercive plea deals. We are disappointed Governor Murphy vetoed this bill, but encouraged by Attorney General Grewal’s directive requiring prosecutors to waive mandatory minimums for individuals accused of and serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, and by Senators Cunningham and Scutari’s persistence with the introduction of a new bill to remove mandatory minimum statutes for all nonviolent offenses from law. While we believe that mandatory minimums should be abolished, we urge the legislature to move swiftly to get this issue back on the Governor’s desk, as each further delay adds to the toll of excessive days of incarceration in state prisons and strengthens the trial penalty in New Jersey courts."

ACDL-NJ Report Details Objections and Proposed Modifications to New Jersey Courts' Plan to Resume Jury Trials

posted Aug 13, 2020, 1:23 PM by ACDL-NJ Administrator   [ updated Aug 13, 2020, 1:26 PM ]

August 13, 2020 -- The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) formally announced its plan for partially remote jury trials to the public on July 22, 2020. The ACDL-NJ now formally responds with its objections and recommendations to that plan.  A summary of ACDL-NJ’s objections and recommendations to the plan is below, and the complete report is here:
  1. The accused must consent.

  2. The Court must do everything possible to minimize the disproportionate impact a partially remote trial proceeding is likely to have on juror demographics.

  3. Jury selection must be primarily in person.

  4. The jury must be in the room with the parties during the trial.

  5. Attorneys must be able to communicate with their clients during the trial.

  6. One size does not fit all; the parties must have flexibility to do what works best in each courtroom and in each trial.

  7. New Jersey must improve jury selection post-pandemic.

ACDL-NJ Press Release on Virtual Grand Juries - July 13, 2020

posted Jul 13, 2020, 6:23 AM by ACDL-NJ Administrator


The Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey roundly condemns the use of virtual Grand Juries, and rejects the Administrative Office of the Courts’ attempt to tell the public that virtual Grand Juries are good for our criminal justice system. 

As the ACDL-NJ held a town hall meeting on July 9, 2020, to address strategies for combating the unconstitutional virtual Grand Jury pilot program imposed upon the state by court order with nearly 75 lawyers, political leaders, community activists, and clergy, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) simultaneously issued a press release touting the self-proclaimed “success” of its virtual Grand Jury pilot program. The AOC reported that since June 18 virtual Grand Juries had returned 33 indictments, and seemed to celebrate the Wi-Fi indictments as trophies, totally ignoring the constitutionally unsound process utilized to achieve them.

Absent from the AOC’s press release is whether any defendant has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a virtual Grand Jury. The press release from the AOC, reveling in nearly three dozen indictments without mention of a single individual that was no-billed by a virtual Grand Jury, demonstrates that the AOC views virtual Grand Juries as a mechanism for obtaining indictments and not for carrying out justice.

Each of the 33 indictments represents a human being that was treated as just a cog in the process, an anonymous statistic denied the basic protections that are constitutionally guaranteed to defendants in the State of New Jersey as they enter the criminal justice system cloaked with the presumption of innocence. The AOC’s release did nothing to rebut the array of issues that make indictment by Wi-Fi unconstitutional and simply wrong.
Read the complete ACDL-NJ press release condemning the AOC for virtual Grand Juries, PR effort & announcing Pandemic Task Force here


ACDL-NJ Young Lawyers' Mixer 11-7-19

posted Nov 12, 2019, 12:14 PM by ACDL-NJ Administrator   [ updated Nov 12, 2019, 12:22 PM ]

ACDL-NJ helps score a major win for the attorney-client privilege in New Jersey

posted Aug 20, 2019, 11:51 AM by ACDL-NJ Administrator   [ updated Aug 20, 2019, 12:54 PM by Josh G ]

August 16, 2019 -- Attorneys representing the ACDL-NJ helped achieve a major victory for defendants’ rights, defeating a New Jersey state prosecutor’s bid to force a criminal defense attorney to testify in a grand jury proceeding against a former client pertaining to, among other issues, the substance of the client’s communications with his lawyer.



posted Aug 18, 2019, 8:10 PM by Josh G   [ updated Aug 18, 2019, 8:11 PM ]

August 6, 2019

The Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey (ACDL-NJ) was established in 1985 and its membership is currently composed of private attorneys, public defenders, law professors and various legal professionals.  The ACDL-NJ is the primary organized voice for the criminal defense bar and has been for many years.  

The ACDL-NJ was formed, among other very important reasons, to vigorously protect and defend those individual rights guaranteed to all people by the New Jersey and United States Constitutions. At the very core of those individual rights lies the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments and the presumption of innocence. ABA Resolution 114, which urges legislatures to adopt affirmative consent requirements and thereby redefine consent in criminal sexual assault cases, threatens to strip individuals accused of sexual assault of their basic rights to due process and the presumption of innocence. As currently constituted, Resolution 114 completely redefines consent in a manner that unconstitutionally shifts the burden of proof to the accused to affirmatively negate a claim of lack of consent by requiring the accused to establish the victim’s consent as “expressed by [the victim’s] words or action.”

Resolution 114 not only violates the presumption of innocence and the protections afforded by the Due Process Clause; it also threatens to eviscerate the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent by forcing the defendant to testify to present evidence that consent was expressed. The ACDL-NJ has grave concerns that the Resolution, if adopted by the New Jersey Legislature, will increase the likelihood of wrongful convictions and essentially convert sexual assault statutes to strict liability crimes that focus solely on the victim and completely disregard the mental state of the accused. Criminal liability and exposure to lengthy prison terms should rarely, if ever, be based on an act without giving any consideration to the state of mind of the accused.

For the reasons expressed above, we stand with our national affiliate, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”), in vehemently opposing ABA Resolution 114 and fully endorse the NACDL’s position statement in opposition to Resolution 114. The NACDL’s statement also includes suggested alternate language which reaffirms the most basic legal tenet that the burden of proof on the issue of consent never shifts from the prosecution.

The ABA House of Delegates is scheduled to vote on Resolution 114 on August 12, 2019.  The ACDL-NJ urges New Jersey’s Delegates to vote NO on ABA Resolution 114.

ACDL-NJ 7/10/19 Statement Regarding Call for Removal of Two Superior Court Judges

posted Aug 2, 2019, 10:33 AM by ACDL-NJ Administrator   [ updated Aug 2, 2019, 10:34 AM ]

ACDL-NJ Installation of Officers and Trustees, May 3, 2018

posted Jun 7, 2018, 8:24 AM by ACDL-NJ Administrator   [ updated Jun 7, 2018, 8:31 AM ]

ACDL-NJ Officers are sworn in.  L to R: ACDL-NJ Vice President Aidan P. O'Connor; Vice President Linda D. Foster; President-Elect John A. Azzarello; President Sharon Bittner Kean; Vice President Mark H. Friedman; Secretary/Treasurer Matthew S. Adams

ACDL-NJ President Sharon Bittner Kean

ACDL-NJ Past and Current Presidents: Donald DiGoia (2009-10); Joseph A. Hayden, Jr. (1985-86); Robert S. Bonney, Jr. (2005-06); Sharon Bittner Kean (2018-19); Brian J. Neary (1997-98)

Sharon Bittner Kean and 2018 Whipple Award Recipient (and ACDL-NJ Past President) Miles Feinstein

ACDL-NJ Past President Michael Baldassare, Miles Feinstein, ACDL-NJ Trustee Jennifer Mara

ACDL-NJ Trustee Michael P. Koribanics and Miles Feinstein

ACDL-NJ's 26th Annual Super Saturday Seminar, October 18, 2014

posted Nov 2, 2014, 6:45 PM by ACDL-NJ Administrator

Participants in the ACDL-NJ Super Saturday's panel discussion on "Ethics: Professionalism in the Practice" (L to R): Sabrina Comizzoli, Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney & Chief of Staff, U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey; John A. Azzarello, Esq., Partner, Whipple Azzarello, LLC; Honorable Michael A. Shipp, United States District Judge, District of New Jersey; Honorable Anne M. Patterson, Justice, Supreme Court of New Jersey; John M. Fietkiewicz, Counsel to the U.S. Attorney

ACDL-NJ Installation of Officers, May 29, 2014

posted Aug 9, 2014, 11:30 AM by ACDL-NJ Administrator   [ updated Aug 9, 2014, 11:32 AM ]

ACDL-NJ Officers: President Joseph D. Rotella, Vice President Michael J. Sullivan, Vice President 
Judith B. Fallon, President-Elect Michael A. Baldassare, Secretary/Treasurer Sharon Bittner Kean, 
Vice President Christopher D. Adams

ACDL-NJ President Joseph D. Rotella and Whipple Memorial Award Recipient Hon. Edwin H. Stern (JAD, Ret.)

Photo credit: Bill Levy

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