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Thursday, April 27, 2006

NJ: Admission of Priest's Statement of Homosexuality Causes Reversal of Conviction

A priest, "Michael F.", convicted of abusing a youthful male parisoner, had his conviction reversed because his statement that he was struggling with homosexuality, made to the police att he time of his arrest, was admitted in his criminal trial. A three-judge panel of the Appellate Division concluded: "The admission of this statement injected into this case the specter of a jury deciding defendant's guilt on the unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia. Moreover, defendant's fear that the statement would be used to draw unwarranted conclusions was realized when the judge reminded the jury that defendant stated that he was homosexual."

Another interesting passage in a NJAD decision caught my eye: said the court: "In a brief, which was
unnecessarily lengthy, defendant advances ten errors allegedly committed by the trial court during defendant's Cape May County jury trial. The excessively wordy and repetitive 104 page "brief" made it more difficult for us to discern whether defendant was advancing any meritorious allegations. After our careful review of the record, however, we conclude that several errors were made that require reversal of defendant's conviction and a new trial."  Well, as a former law clerk I am sympathetic to the court's irritation with a prolix brief.  On the other hand, as a former appellate defender, I can't help but notice that the wordy and repetitive brief won; somehow the advocate caught the court's attention.  Counsel must have been doing something right. [Jack Chin]

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