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Legal Ethics

Former Prosecutor and Chief City Judge Admits Arranging for Innocent Man to Make False Confession

Posted Apr 6, 2011 3:57 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A former New Jersey prosecutor and chief municipal judge in the state's biggest city has pleaded guilty to accepting a $3,500 payment in exchange for arranging for an innocent man to make a false confession in a gun-possession case.

In addition, Clifford Minor, 68, who runs a Newark criminal defense firm, also pleaded guilty to obstruction and related charges concerning false statements he made to federal authorities about his dealings with the innocent client, Jamal Muhammad. Muhammad was to accept $1,500 to take the fall for Abdul Williams, a convicted felon who hence faced substantial time if convicted, reports the New York Law Journal in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

Minor faces up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in July, and must also give up his law license. He formerly worked as an Essex County prosecutor and was the chief administrative judge in Newark. Earlier in his career he was a Newark police officer.

His lawyer, Thomas Ashley, calls Minor's representation of Jamal Muhammad an aberration in his otherwise admirable career.

As detailed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, the case has a link to another well-known New Jersey defense lawyer with criminal troubles of his own. Although Minor apparently didn't have any prior connection to either Muhammad or Williams, an indictment says attorney Paul Bergrin previously represented Williams.

Bergrin, who at last report was facing charges including murder in an alleged witness-intimidation scheme, is not accused of any wrongdoing in Minor's case.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Former NJ Prosecutor and Judge Charged with Aiding Bribed False Confession"

ABAJournal.com: "Judge Nixes RICO Charges, But Defense Lawyer Still Faces 36 Counts, Including Murder"

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