X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Being an illegal alien may not be reason enough to be denied admission to New Jersey’s pretrial intervention program, but it is a relevant factor for prosecutors to consider, an appeals court ruled on Wednesday. The panel ruled that Superior Court Judge Patricia LeBon in Burlington County overstepped her bounds when she overruled a prosecutor’s decision to refuse PTI to two men indicted for using fake documents to apply for driver’s licenses. In both cases, State v. Liviaz, A-5135-05T1, and State v. Claros-Benitez, A-5136-05T1, Assistant Prosecutor Deborah Siegrist cited the men’s illegal status in the United States for years as one reason to deny admission into the diversionary program. “He has chosen to commit a criminal act every day that he remains in this country illegally,” Siegrist wrote in a rejection letter for David Liviaz, a Peruvian living in the U.S. for 13 years. “Rather than attempting to gain some legal status, he has actively engaged in fraud and subterfuge to remain here.” “This behavior is not indicative of an honest person who has engaged in an aberrant single episode of criminal activity,” she continued. “Rather, it is indicative of a person who does not feel bound by the law when it is not consonant with his own desires.” Siegrist used the same language when she rejected the PTI application of Dennis Claros-Benitez, a Honduran in the United States illegally for five years. LeBon said it appeared to her that Siegrist invoked a per se rule disallowing PTI for any illegal alien and that she had engaged in a “patent and gross abuse” of discretion. But Appellate Division Judges Donald Coburn, Francine Axelrad and William Gilroy said LeBon misread Siegrist’s intent, and noted that judges generally are blocked from reversing prosecutors’ decisions regarding PTI under State v. Negron, 178 N.J. 73 (2003). “[P]rosecutors have ‘wide latitude’ in their PTI decisions and our scope of review is ‘severely limited,’” Coburn wrote for the panel. “Our difficulty with the trial judge’s opinion is its failure to demonstrate that a per se rule was in fact applied. . . . Although defendants’ illegal status was an important factor, it was far from the only factor on which the assistant prosecutor relied.” Siegrist says she is pleased the appeals court understood her reasons for rejecting the applications. The defendants’ attorney, Assistant Deputy Public Defender Marcia Blum, was away from her office on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.