Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The New Jersey Supreme Court has reversed the conviction of a middle school librarian on aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child charges because of exculpatory evidence that was not known by either prosecutor or defense counsel at the time of the criminal trial.
The court held that newly discovered evidence "severely undercut" the credibility of one of the child accusers.
The child was followed by an adult at all times and was considered a "pathological liar." An informal gag order by the (now deceased) school principal had impaired the ability of the defense to discover these critical facts.
The court noted that the case did not involve either prosecutorial misconduct or ineffective assistance of counsel but concluded that
...even though a defendant is generally barred from presented a claim on [post-conviction review] that has been previously litigated or that could have been raised at trial or on direct appeal, the rules do not require the Court to acquiesce to a miscarriage of justice.