PCR and Withheld Evidence (Part 5)

by | Oct 11, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

Justice Albin continued in relevant part: In February 2009, the Appellate Division reversed the second PCR court and remanded for an evidentiary hearing. Before the evidentiary hearing, Hannah filed a motion to recuse the PCR judge because he had served as the Hudson County Prosecutor when that office opposed Hannah’s PCR application. The PCR judge declined to disqualify himself and denied Hannah post-conviction relief. The Appellate Division held that the PCR judge should have recused himself and remanded for a new hearing before a different judge.

At the new evidentiary hearing in 2014, the new PCR judge denied Hannah relief, making factual findings that (1) “it is probable that Hannah’s counsel was in possession of the Redd report” and that (2) “it is highly unlikely that the report was suppressed at trial,” as well as legal findings the evidence would not have changed the outcome at trial. The Appellate Division affirmed, but nevertheless remanded for a hearing to “address whether the pager was newly discovered evidence.” The Court denied certification.

 In August 2018, a fourth evidentiary hearing was conducted. The court found that Hannah had not satisfied the three prongs of the standard for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The Appellate Division affirmed on the ground that Thomas’s statements were not admissible as statements against interest. In so holding, the appellate court seemingly accepted that Hannah did not have the Redd Report, despite the findings of the third PCR court, which were affirmed on appeal. The Court granted certification.

These additional recitations further demonstrate the staggering amount of time and resources involved with murder trials and post-conviction proceedings. Moreover, the involvement of the Office of the Public Defender increases the likely percentage of the resources that were funded by tax dollars. While the Office of the Public Defender does a good job at recovering the funds from its client via property garnishment, many of its clients have no resources to garnish.