What they don't want you to know about the criminal justice system in Sussex County, New Jersey...
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The jury's primary purpose is to safeguard citizens against arbitrary governmental actions by providing the accused a "safeguard against the corrupt or overzealous prosecutor and against the compliant, biased, or eccentric judge."A trial commenced on January 4, 2001 where Thomas A. Cassidy was charged with the possession of "assault firearms" under New Jersey's vague anti-gun statute.
On January 4, 2001 Sussex County Assistant Prosecutor Francis Koch presented his case on behalf of the State of New Jersey. That evening, the jurors were released for the weekend and specifically instructed by Judge Lorraine C. Parker, J.S.C. not to do "any Internet research" about the case, or the issue of "assault firearms". Remember folks, this site is all about "what they don't want you to know about the criminal justice system in Sussex County, New Jersey..."!
On January 9, 2001 the case resumed where the State of New Jersey and defense counsel Evan F. Nappen had rested their respective cases.
At approximately 11:40 a.m. on January 9th, the 12 jurors from Sussex County were charged with their juror instructions by Judge Lorraine C. Parker, J.S.C. At this time the jurors were dutifully reminded by the judge that lunchtime was approaching. The jurors were then released to deliberate.
With lunch weighing heavily on the minds of jurors, the thoughtful jurors of Sussex County had reached their verdict in approximately two minutes. The jurors of Sussex County had found Thomas A. Cassidy guilty of all charges. The wise jurors of Sussex County had needed but a mere two minutes to consider an issue that has judges throughout the State of New Jersey conflicted due to the complexity and vagueness of the statute!
So what is going on here? Prior to being selected, many of the jurors were asked if they own any firearms. Many of the jurors had indicated yes. Many wives had indicated that their husband owns a firearm. Indeed, gun ownership in the United States is not uncommon. In fact, it is a constitutional right.
Mechanically, there is no difference between what New Jersey has dubbed an "assault firearm" and any other semi-automatic firearm. Functionally, ballistically, mechanically, they are all equivalent. This is where you all have missed the point.
The State of New Jersey does not want you to own guns. Period. The New Jersey Appellate Division courts have stated "When dealing in guns, the citizen acts at his peril"[N.2]. Think about this. Many of the jurors acknowledged gun ownership. Many of you probably own a semi-automatic firearm. With the vague buzzword of "substantially identical" you too may be subjected to a malicious prosecution under this law. We hope that your jury, or that of a loved one recognizes what is going on here and is not preoccupied with lunch.
At trial, the jurors were asked to think about fairness. In criminal law, we call this due process, or fundamental fairness.
Apparently, the issues at hand had flown right over the heads of the jurors in favor of a quick bite to eat. The jurors of Sussex County had taken two minutes of their time to possibly subject a man to a once threatened sentence of 35 years in prison. We hope that this page will serve to remind future jurors to think about the importance of their duties as citizens.
Thomas A. Cassidy stands committed to his plea of not guilty with the hope that others will not be subjected to the irrationality and associated abuses of power that are inherent in this vague New Jersey statute.
Case Update- On February 23, 2001 Thomas A. Cassidy was sentenced to 3 years of probation under New Jersey's vague assault firearm law, while the constitutionality of this law remains under review in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Take notice that in the above sentence, the Sussex County Justice officials now request the surrender of a Prosecutor's Agent identification card that was issued to Thomas A. Cassidy by the Sussex County Prosecutor in 1993. Yet at trial, the Sussex County Justice officials refused to permit Tom to raise his status as a Prosecutor's Agent as an exemption to this egregious law. Do they now seek to destroy exculpatory evidence, in addition to all the other injustices that they have committed over the last 5 years?