A GOOD DAY FOR THE INNOCENT

As an attorney practicing criminal defense for 32 years, I have spent half my life defending individuals accused of committing criminal acts. A lot of the time, my job entails guiding them through the system and protecting their rights along the way and eventually achieving the very best plea result possible taking into account all possible defenses available to the client. Few cases result in trial, but when my client maintains his/her innocence, I am always prepared to go to trial rather than encourage a client to accept responsibility for a crime he/she did not commit.
The most difficult of all scenarios is the client has either choosen to plead guilty to a lesser crime to limit his or her exposure to a lengthy jail sentence when they have in fact not committed the crime, or even worse have been found guilty by a jury while adamantly insisting all the way that they are innocent. It is these clients that keep me up at night, that make it difficult to trust our justice system to do right by the people of New Jersey.

Today I applaud Governor Christie for signing into law a bipartisan bill 1678/s 1365 that will greatly improve access to DNA testing to help the wrongfully convicted prove their innocence and enable law enforcement to identify the truly guilty. The new law allows Defendants that are no longer incarcerated but may be on parole or probation or on a sex offender registry to be eligible for State and Federal DNA databases.

By removing the requirement that a person must be incarcerated to access DNA testing, it expands the number of individual that may benefit from clearing their names. It may restore lives and bring families together, allowing the wrongfully convicted to obtain gainful employment and support their families.

I hope to be able to make this new law available to those clients that have kept me up at night worrying and give them and their families a chance to sleep more soundly as well.