What they don't want you to know about the criminal justice system in Sussex County, New Jersey...
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On the Train to Simple Assault
"Although it appears that there is a higher degree of corruption in police agencies than in other branches of the criminal justice system, no part of the system is immune."
As you will see by a reading of the entire case, the State will allege that this is a case of "domestic violence" in an attempt to justify their illegal conduct. However, assuming arguendo, that this was a case of "domestic violence", this justification too must fail in that the Domestic Violence Statutes had not even been adhered to in this case! Indeed, nothing in the record thus far has appeared that indicates that a Judge had even been contacted, as is required under New Jersey Domestic Violence Laws!
On March 15, Thomas Cassidy had retained the services of William McGovern III. Repeatedly, Tom had questioned the allegations of "domestic violence". With four years of persistent malicious prosecution under his belt, Tom now knows why they allege acts of "domestic violence". It is clear that the Sussex County Justice officials will attempt to justify their illegal conduct under the guise of domestic violence.
Recall now, that Tom was charged with an act of simple assault by Newton Police Detective Anthony Virga on March 27, 1996. It appears that these cover charges were filed in an attempt to cover up the illegality that had taken place on March 14, 1996. For almost one year, McGovern repeatedly made requests for "discovery materials" from the State. Indeed, it was unclear for a very long time what Tom was alleged to have done! Initially, the State alleged that Tom had engaged in some act of "verbal harassment". The State had even claimed to have tapes of this fictitious conduct!
Over a period of several months, McGovern had made numerous requests to the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office requesting discovery materials. One of the earlier requests was made in a letter dated April 11, 1996 McGovern writes:
"I previously requested discovery material regarding this matter from the Sussex County Prosecutorís Office, my latest letter being April 3, 1996 addressed to Sussex County Prosecutor, Dennis OíLeary. As of this date, I have received no reply nor have I received any of the discovery materials requested. This letter renews my request for discovery under the New Jersey Rules of Court."From early on in the case, we begin to see resistance being exhibited by the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office. This resistance is not unusual when one considers a "totality of the actual circumstances" surrounding the police and prosecutorial misconduct in the case of State v. Thomas Cassidy.
Yet even as the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office was not cooperating by providing defense counsel with discovery materials, Assistant Prosecutor Bruce LaCarrubba did have time to threaten Tom with the destruction of the illegally seized firearms. Should Assistant Prosecutor LaCarrubba have been contacting Tom directly with this correspondence when he knew Tom had secured defense counsel to represent him? This conduct is egregious in that ones private property is first illegally seized by the State without due process of law and then they have the audacity to make threats of initiating forfeiture proceedings for the subsequent destruction of private property!
In yet another letter dated August 28, 1996 McGovern once again makes one of many numerous requests to the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office for discovery materials:
"Attached is a copy of my letter to you dated July 9, 1996 requesting a copy of the cassette recording and transcript of cassette regarding a tape-recorded statement of Natalie DeGennaro which was provided to the Newton Police Department in or about March 1996.
In this letter, it appears that McGovern had been told that there had been some type of tape recording related to the case. Yet no tape had ever materialized. Moreover, despite Mr. McGovern's statements that he would apply to have the case against Tom dismissed, the train to simple assault was still very much on schedule!
On September 26, 1996, McGovern wrote a letter to Judge N. Peter Conforti, J.S.C. indicating:
"When we were last before the Court several weeks ago, Assistant Prosecutor Bruce LaCarrubba indicated to the Court and Counsel that his office has a conflict regarding the two (2) Complaints in which each party is charged with Simple Assault.
Here we see that there has been a conflict of interest throughout the case, yet the Sussex County Justice officials manage to keep the police and prosecutorial misconduct contained within Sussex County. Damage control is in full effect! Moreover, it is now 6 months later and the Sussex county Prosecutor's Office is still withholding evidence! What were they hiding?
As you read through the voluminous amount of documentation in the case, you will see, that the Sussex County Justice officials had plenty to hide and much to fabricate. Take notice of the dates, folks. It is also around this time that the Sussex County Justice officials were conspiring to create the previously non-existent probable cause so that they could justify an illegal midnight search and seizure in a private residence! Thus far, the Sussex County Superior Court judges had managed to steer clear of any complicity in the misconduct. However, it was on February 4, 1997 that Judge N. Peter Conforti, J.S.C. had made his deliberate decision to facilitate the- thus far successful- conspiracy to deprive Tom of his civil rights. Indeed, as James William Coleman has suggested above, no part of the criminal justice system is immune from corruption.
On February 4, 1997- almost one year later- a bench trial took place in Sussex County Superior Court- Family Division. Judge N. Peter Conforti, J.S.C. conducted the "bench trial". A bench trial is one in which the Judge takes on the role that is usually reserved for a jury of ones peers. The bench trial scenario permits one person- The Judge- to adjudicate ones guilt or innocence. The bench trial is a unique event in that it circumvents the role of neutrality- a check on government- that citizens will ordinarily fill as jurors. The bench trial permits judges to engage in misconduct discreetly and surreptitiously.
At the bench trial, Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Vincent J. Connors, Jr. stated that he was dismissing the disorderly person complaint that Tom had filed against Ms. DeGennaro-Holley on March 19, 1996. This was quite an unusual overt act of misconduct on the part of Assistant Prosecutor Connors. Yet even more egregious is the fact that Judge N. Peter Conforti, J.S.C. approved of the misconduct! Assistant Prosecutor Connors had just overtly denied Tom of his right to petition the courts for a redress of grievances, thereby denying Tom of his First Amendment rights. What is even more shocking than the prosecutorial misconduct is the fact that Judge N. Peter Conforti, who is supposed to be neutral and detached, had sanctioned this misconduct! Once again, we see Sussex County Justice in operation!
Given this misconduct, one can realize that Tom was wrongfully convicted of a crime that he had not committed. But much more importantly, Judge N. Peter Conforti, J.S.C. had just created the previously non-existent probable cause that his colleague Judge Gerald B. Hanifan would seize upon in order to justify the illegal search and seizure that had been conducted on March 14 & 15, 1996. This was a critical turning point in the case in that previously the misconduct had stemmed from police and prosecutors. Now, the Sussex County Judiciary had embarked on a decision to facilitate police and prosecutorial misconduct in Sussex County!
Tom had been successfully loaded onto the train to simple assault! Tom was sentenced to one year of probation supervision, numerous fines and fees, restitution, an assessment at the Domestic Violence Assessment Center (DVAC), the DECIDE anger management program, and other terms and conditions. All for a crime that he had not committed! While the "train" was pulling out of the station, Tom sought out an attorney who was not closely associated with the Sussex County Justice officials.