Update on ‘crab king’ case as of 6/9/2019

There were unusual and unexpected actions apparently involving both the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office and the Clerk of the Criminal Case Management office last week. As a result, the hearing originally scheduled for tomorrow, June 10, is apparently delayed. I’ve filed motions to address the underlying reasons. It’s just incredible that so many bad acts by government and court officials could be packed into one frivolous case and this raises larger questions. Here is the update:

On May 30 I filed a motion to exclude a late-filed brief because the deadline in the case scheduling order for the state’s brief had passed. When I filed the motion in person in Bridgeton, I heard from the clerk court that she intended to allow a late-filed brief based on an ex-parte e-mail communication between the Prosecutor’s office and the court clerk. Both of these actions (the acceptance of filing outside of the court-ordered schedule and the e-mail collusion between the two court officers) are violations of criminal court procedure that work against the defendant. I complained to the clerk that the ex-parte communications that disadvantaged me in this case are reportable ethics violations. The clerk literally shrugged her shoulders in response to my objection.

IMO, an ordinary citizen should be outraged that this type of unethical action outside of legal procedure takes place against a defendant. I commented to the clerk that that this type of casual disregard for the law and willingness to place defendants at an unfair disadvantage is why average citizens lose faith in the justice system.

The clerk asked me to wait in the office of Criminal Case Management and within 30 minutes of my filing handed me a revised case scheduling order that changed the details. Apparently the revised scheduling order was an attempt to address my complaint. The prosecutor apparently filed the response brief later that day. I then filed a motion to reject the Revised Scheduling Order on the basis that it was merely an attempt by officers of the court to cover up my complaint.

Both of my motions are unaddressed at this time and I will address them later as appropriate. But based on the latest court order, the new hearing details are listed below:

Oral argument is now scheduled Monday June 17, 2019 at 1:30 PM before Honorable Judge Joseph M. Chiarello, JSC in Court Room 235, Cumberland County Court House, Broad and Fayette Streets, Bridgeton NJ for State vs. Tony Novak, Appeal #2-19. The state will be represented by Danielle Pennino, Esq. of the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. The hearing is open to the public.

This case has unfortunately brought out the worst of our criminal justice system – a frivolous case gone mad. We now have:

  • A demand by a law enforcement officer where the defendant could not possibly comply with the demand
  • A law enforcement officer manufacturing an offense without any witnesses or physical evidence
  • Admission of stalking by a law enforcement officer on social media
  • Admission of entrapment based on the stalking by an officer
  • A municipal court’s lack of familiarity with applicable case law
  • A prosecutor’s willingness to distort a law enforcement officer’s testimony to secure a “win” on a municipal court case
  • Mishandling of appeal paperwork by municipal court office
  • Ex-parte communications between prosecutor and the court
  • Refusal of officers of the court to take responsibility for their own bad behavior

Court filings that are normally available as public (or even restricted) records online are apparently not available for this type of case. I do not know why.  I plan to make the case records available after final disposition of the case, unless legally restricted, if the court does not do so. Other legal observers are looking at this case both in terms of the prosecutorial procedures as well as the potential impact on online marketing  of regulated industries like community-funded fishing.

Unfortunately, this case has turned into a clear example of what is wrong with our criminal justice system today. crabs in basket

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