“That was then and this is now” was the message Judge Maryanne Trump Barry sent to Margaret Kelly Michaels in the civil-suit aftermath of the notorious 1980s child sexual abuse prosecution.

True, Essex County prosecutors, in retrospect, irrevocably botched the investigatory stages of the case — particularly the questioning of the child witnesses whose testimony led to Michaels’ conviction. Indeed, that was why the state Supreme Court reversed the conviction and established mandatory procedures for future cases, such as a “taint” hearing to determine whether interrogators exercise undue influence on child witnesses to prompt testimony.

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