In a recent child pornography case, a New Jersey criminal attorney argued that his client was treated unfairly when he was denied access to state evidence against him. Attorney Bruce LiCausi presented his client’s case to the state Supreme Court early this year, and claimed that the Appellate Division has created an unequal system for defendants in keeping his client, Blaine Scoles, in the dark about his own trial. Scoles, a Green Brook man, was charged with second- and fourth-degree counts of child-welfare endangerment after a police search uncovered explicit computer files.
LiCausi filed a pretrial discovery motion to gain access to the images police were labeling as illicit and pornographic, strategizing to challenge their authenticity in court. The state blocked his motion, and refused to turn over the images. LiCausi was allowed to review the images under supervision, but could not perform his own research. LiCausi argued that, based on a 2009 decision by the Appellate Division in State v. Cohen, New Jersey criminal lawyers are allowed access to “all computer images and data confiscated, subject to certain conditions to prevent their dissemination.” However, a superior court judge disagreed with this argument, maintaining that different circumstances led to the decision made in State v. Cohen.
This decision, LiCausi argued, “impairs [his] ability to prepare a defense,” because he was prevented from being able to refer to the images throughout the course of the trial. He noted that the Cohen trial was high profile, involving former Democratic Assemblyman Neil Cohen, and that unrestricted access to evidence should be allowed for all defendants, not just those with high public status.
Lawrence Lustberg, a representative for the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey stated that the Superior Court’s ruling made an unsettling statement about a lack of trust in defense attorneys. Lustberg argued that New Jersey criminal attorneys for the defense should have identical copies for their own use during trial.
The New Jersey criminal lawyers at Helmer, Conley and Kasselman, PA believe that allowing defense attorneys to have their own copies of such evidence would help lawyers better defend their clients. If you have been charged with a crime and seek legal advice, contact one of our NJ criminal attorneys today for a free consultation.