The Appellate Unit is supervised by Chief Assistant Prosecutor Marc Festa. An appeal is a legal procedure by which a case is brought from a trial court to an appellate court for review. If the defendant is found guilty of an offense or if a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent, he or she has the right to file an appeal . The defendant can ask the appellate court to review all of the trial and pre trial pretrial hearings, as well as the investigative process, to be sure that no legal errors were made.
The Prosecutor’s Appellate Section is responsible for tracking and opposing the appeals filed by adult criminal defendants and delinquent juveniles following adjudications of guilt in the trial courts of Passaic County. Appellate work involves the review of transcripts, writing briefs and, in some cases, appearing before the appellate courts for oral argument.
The Appellate Section is called upon to handle appeals both in the Appellate Division of New Jersey’s judicial system and the Supreme Court of New Jersey. If matters are pursued into the federal court system, the Appellate Section handles the cases in the United States District Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the United States Supreme Court. Most cases are limited to the filing of briefs by the section, but appearances for oral argument may be necessary in any of the above courts. To that end, all members of the Appellate legal staff have been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.
The section represents the State in Appellate Division appeals pursued by defendants from municipal court adjudications and Superior Court affirmations; most of which involve driving while intoxicated prosecutions. An increase in these matters is reflective of greater enforcement in this area and the increase in penalties imposed upon convictions for drunken driving.
The section also assists the Prosecutor’s trial staff in legal research. The section assists in the preparation of trial court briefs, memoranda to staff regarding new case law developments and has some trial court responsibilities, such as return of property applications.