When a drug case hits courtrooms around the country, there are certain rules for how to proceed: the parties have to come in from the outside, and the judge must be impartial.
But there are other ways that the courts can work together to avoid courtrooms being a battleground of the drugs war.
In one case, a man in New Jersey decided to file a motion to dismiss his drug case because he felt that the judge would have no choice but to take the side of the prosecutors.
The judge agreed and dismissed the case on the grounds that the prosecutor did not provide evidence of wrongdoing.
“The court did not find that there was any probable cause for the prosecution to seek the forfeiture,” wrote the judge in the dismissal order.
“There was no indication of wrongdoing by the prosecutor.”
The judge also wrote that the prosecution was not allowed to introduce evidence of the defendant’s use of the drug.
“Because the prosecutor failed to demonstrate the use of [the drug] was ‘reasonably foreseeable,’ the trial court did no more than dismiss the case.”
That dismissal was overturned by the New Jersey Supreme Court, and on appeal the New York Supreme Court ruled that the state had to allow the trial judge to review evidence and that there is no requirement that the trial courts make a finding that a particular evidence or evidence combination is or is not a “reasonable” inference to be used to determine guilt.
In a separate case, the court ruled that prosecutors had to disclose the names of defendants in the drug case.
In that case, prosecutors had no right to disclose that information without first being allowed to call a defense attorney.
“Although the defendant is entitled to be heard before a prosecutor, the prosecutor has no obligation to disclose this information,” wrote Chief Justice James E. Wilson in a dissent.
“The prosecutor must inform the defendant that his name will not be made public.”
That case is now pending before the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Wilson wrote that because prosecutors could not tell the defense attorney that the information would not be disclosed, it is unclear whether the defendant should be allowed to remain silent.
He added that the decision to allow defense attorneys to call the defendant in a drug prosecution is a “fundamental right,” but the decision by the state to keep the defendant silent could be seen as a violation of that right.
The New York Court of Appeals, however, is also taking a different approach.
“It is not appropriate for prosecutors to keep an innocent defendant silent because he will not reveal his identity to the defense,” wrote Justice Stephen A. Meyer in a separate opinion.
“A prosecutor may not compel a defendant to reveal his name.
The burden of proof is on the defendant to demonstrate that his silence is necessary to avoid incriminating himself.
Prosecutors may not require that a defendant confess.”
The state Supreme Court is expected to take up the New England case this summer.