I was just found guilty in Municipal Court and I want to appeal. What do I have to do to be successful to appeal from municipal court?
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In this case the appellate division reviews the standard of review of the Law Division judge when you appeal a case from the Municipal Court in New Jersey. First of all you have to make sure that all of your witness come to municipal court and testify, and any other evidence you want to introduce has to be introduced at the municipal court hearing. The Law Division judge reviews all of the facts and evidence placed in the record at the municipal court level. However, the judge in the Law Division, the higher court, will not review the municipal court judge’s comments and decisions regarding credibility and veracity of the municipal court judge. The case law requires the Law Division judge to give deference to the Municipal Court judge’s findings concerning credibility and veracity because those judges are able to witness the testimony of the witness it first hand and see the credibility of the person testify. However, the Law Division judge is allowed to review the facts from the beginning. The Law Division judge will review all of the facts and apply the laws to determine if the state or the defense has met its burden of proof regarding the elements of the offense. If there is an error of law the Law Division judges is allowed to address that as well.
So, in this case the Law Division judge found that the municipal court judge did weigh all the evidence, considering all the facts, did weigh the facts correctly. He found that the municipal court judge did not abuse his discretion was well within his decision-making ability to arrive at the conclusion he did. As a result, the municipal court judges decision will not be disturbed.
On appeal to the Appellate Division the only question is why they are adequate basis in fact for the Law Division judge to come to his conclusion. The Appellate Division judge will not disturb the trial court decision unless there is a abuse of discretion or an error of law. Again in this case the Appellate Division found that trial court’s decision and the municipal court’s decision were both well supported by the facts of the case and the testimony provided. In other words, if you’re going to trial in Municipal Court you have to make sure that you have all your witnesses and all your evidence ready to go. If you do not and you lose you will not be able to add additional witnesses her testimony at the trial court level. Make sure you are prepared at the trial in Municipal Court and your attorney is preparing!
If those witnesses do not come and testify in the Municipal Court you cannot have them participate at any appeal level. Again, make sure you are prepared and have an attorney who will be prepared at the municipal court level. Do you have such an attorney? Do you feel that the attorney has prepared enough? If not call us at Hark and Hark. We are experience trial attorney to have the knowledge skill and Training to adequately and properly prepare for your case at the time of trial. Just so you are aware of these rules of review apply in the lower division as well, Worker’s Compensation Court, and any administrative law court as well. Make sure you are prepared and have all your evidence ready at the trial level wherever it is.If you do not you will be at a substantial disadvantage when it is time to appeal.