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New Jersey Courtroom Not Designed for Criminal Defense Trials

May 4, 2012 | Posted In Criminal Law - Criminal Defense Trials

Despite extensive renovations, a courtroom in Warren County, New Jersey, remains inadequately equipped to handle trials.  For months, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers and the Warren County Bar Association have been drawing attention to the poor design of the courtroom.  Now, a superior court judge has reignited the debate by moving a trial out of that courtroom.

Warren County Judge Ann Bartlett declared the courtroom unconstitutional after a defense attorney moved for a change in venue because of the unsuitability of the courtroom for trial.  The main problem is that the courtroom design blocks the lines of sight between the defense table and the jury box/witness stand.  New Jersey criminal defense lawyers and others sitting at the defense lawyers’ table cannot see all members of the jury without making a serious and conscious effort to be visible.  Additionally, the people seated at the defense table cannot see the witness stand.

Such a courtroom arrangement is not suitable for trial.  What is even more surprising is that the courtroom was part of a recently completed courtroom renovation project that cost Warren County more than $6 million.  According to Judge Bartlett, the courtroom may be economically designed and elegant but it does not suit the purposes of trial litigation.  The judge commented that the courtroom would have been better designed if judges, trial lawyers and others had been consulted during the design process.  As it stands, the courtroom is not equipped to handle criminal defense trials.

The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons charged with drug crimes, murder, sex crimes, fraud, DUI and other crimes across New Jersey.

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