NJ Cases Explore Defendant Silence As An Issue In Trials


Three New Jersey men say they invoked the right to remain silent while their alleged crimes were under investigation, but the right was violated — and they were denied a fair trial — because once the case was before a jury, prosecutors questioned the silence or suggested it implied guilt, says the Newark-Star Ledger. Tomorrow, the New Jersey Supreme Court will take up the trio of cases that could help define what silence is and how it can, or can’t, be used at trial. The cases are being closely watched by a divided legal community and could have national implications, experts say.

Defense attorneys say defendants are not obliged to prove their innocence. Prosecutors argue the right against self-incrimination should not be stretched so far. An inconsistency in something an accused criminal says or does should be probed and presented to the jury in the name of a fair trial. Anything else gives “short shrift not only to victims of crime, but to all of the people in this state who want to live under a justice system animated by the search for truth,” said Deputy Attorney General Deborah Bartolomey.

Link: http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1163396408129230.xml&coll=1

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