Constitutional Law

The Judge Who Tried My Case Also Acted as Prosecutor, Convicted Burglar Says on Appeal

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Ordinarily, when a defendant shows up for trial and there’s no prosecutor in court, the trial is rescheduled.

But when that happened in a New Jersey municipal court last year, the judge went ahead and tried a burglary case against two brothers without a prosecutor. He also allegedly denied one brother’s request for a public defender to represent him, explaining that the man had “waived” his right to representation by saying he would get a private attorney, reports the New Jersey Law Journal in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

Wendell Kirkland contends that Linden Municipal Court Judge Louis DiLeo violated his due process rights by acting as a prosecutor, when questioning him, and allowing a police officer to act as a prosecutor by cross-examining him.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in municipal court, in all the years I’ve been practicing,” says attorney Michael Rubas of DiMaggio and Rubas. He is representing Kirkland in the appeal to Union County Superior Court.

DiLeo didn’t return calls from the legal publication seeking his comment.

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