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Union Vicinage Criminal Division

Criminal Division Administration is located on the 7th Floor Courthouse at 2 Broad Street, Elizabeth, NJ. Criminal cases are those in which a defendant stands accused of a serious crime such as assault, drug offenses, theft, robbery, fraud or murder.

CRIMINAL DIVISION MANAGEMENT STAFF

 

TITLE LOCATION PHONE NO.

Bernadette Fiore

Criminal Division Manager

Tower, 7th Floor

908-659-4660
908-659-4661 (Fax)

Robert Eppenstein

Assistant Criminal Division Manager

Tower, 7th Floor

908-659-4663

Keli Matthews

Criminal Supervisor

Tower, 5th Floor

908-659-4688

The Criminal Division Manager assists Judges in the day-to-day administration of cases and is responsible for the overall operation of the criminal courts that include case flow and management of court support personnel.

CRIMINAL DIVISION JUDGES AND TEAM LEADERS

Judge Location Team Leader Phone No.

Judge Robert J. Mega, P.J.S.C.

Annex,4th Floor

Christine Howard

908-659-4734

Regina Caulfield, J.S.C.

Annex, 2nd Floor

Jennifer Sincox

908-659-4693

William A. Daniel, J.S.C. Tower 5th Floor Danielle Jones 908-659-3233

Joseph P. Donohue, J.S.C.

Annex, 3rd Floor

Alice McEvoy

908-659-5429

Frederic R. McDaniel, J.S.C.

Annex 3rd Floor

Alice McEvoy

908-659-5429

Scott J. Moynihan, J.S.C.

Annex, 4th Floor

Jennifer Sincox

908-659-4693

Stuart Peim, J.S.C.

Tower, 7th Floor

Cathy Morales

908-659-4668

SUMMARY OF CRIMINAL COURT PROCESS

FIRST APPEARANCE

Tara Murry-Hicks, CSS1, Central Intake 908-659-5407

After a defendant is formally arrested and charged with a crime, a first appearance hearing will be held. At this hearing the defendant is informed of the charges against him/her and advised of the following rights:

  • The right to make a statement concerning those charges
  • The right to apply to the Pretrial Intervention and/or Drug Court Programs
  • The right to a probable cause hearing on any indictable offense
  • The right to a formal indictment by a grand jury

If indigent, a defendant has the right to an appointed counsel, bail issues will be addressed and a Plea-Dispositional Conference (PDC) date will be set.

PLEA-DISPOSITIONAL CONFERENCE [PDC]

At the PDC event the defendant is given the opportunity to work out a plea to the charges. If the defendant pleads guilty, the State draws up an Accusation of the charges, as well as a plea agreement signed by the prosecutor, defense attorney and the judge. A sentence date is given.
If the defendant does not plead guilty, the case will proceed in any of the following directions:

  • Case may be administratively dismissed by the prosecutor;
  • Case may be remanded/downgraded to Municipal Court;
  • Case may be sent to the Grand Jury for consideration of Indictment;
  • Case may be recommended for the Pretrial Intervention and/or Drug Court Programs;

POST-INDICTMENT STATUS CONFERENCE

When the Grand Jury indicts a defendant, a list of defendants is given to the Criminal Division Office and the Office of the Public Defender (PD). The Public Defender's Office assigns counsel for defendants who are found to be eligible for PD representation. The Criminal Division will assign cases to judges based on the assignment of counsel.
Following indictment, cases are scheduled for a Post-Indictment Pre-Arraignment Status Conference. The judge is not present at this conference, but the defendant must appear with his or her attorney. At this conference discovery materials are exchanged and a plea offer from the prosecutor's office is presented to the attorney. A formal notice will be given to the defendant, and/or attorney documenting their appearance at the conference and schedule for Post-Indictment Arraignment.
Status conferences are scheduled on Tuesdays as follows:

  • Jail cases: 5-7 days after indictment
  • Bail cases (in county): 10-14 days after indictment
  • Bail cases (out-of-county): 14-21 days after indictment

POST-INDICTMENT ARRAIGNMENT

Post-indictment arraignments are scheduled on Monday mornings approximately 2-3 weeks after the completed Post-Indictment Pre-Arraignment Status Conference. At this court event the judge formally reads the charges against the defendant as per the indictment and the defendant will receive a chance to enter an initial plea of either "guilty" or "not guilty." If the defendant pleads guilty a sentence date will be set. If the defendant pleads not guilty, a Pre-Trial Status Conference is scheduled.

PRETRIAL CONFERENCE

The Pretrial Conference is usually set 30-45 days after arraignment on Monday mornings. Plea negotiations are conducted at this time. If a guilty plea does not result, any trial problems should be worked out and a tentative trial date is set. Pending motions should be discussed and scheduled either that day or soon thereafter.

TRIALS

Cases scheduled for trial usually begin with jury selection on Monday afternoons or Tuesday mornings in each Criminal Courtroom.

SENTENCING

All Criminal Division judges conduct sentencing hearings on Fridays. The judge will receive a Presentence Investigation Report from the Pre-Sentence Unit which will detail the nature of the instant offense, the defendants prior criminal record, their health, substance abuse, family/social, educational and employment history. (In some instances if the prosecutor and defense attorney agree, the defendant may waive their right to have a Presentence Report prepared and they are simultaneously sentenced at the time of the plea.)

MOTIONS

Every Friday is a formal motion day for all Criminal Judges. However many judges hear motions on other days depending on their schedules and the availability of counsel.

PRE-TRIAL INTERVENTION PROGRAM

Main Number: 908-659-4675

The Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program generally provides first-time offenders with opportunities for an alternative to the traditional criminal justice process. PTI seeks to render early rehabilitative intervention to deter future criminal behavior.

The PTI program is based on a rehabilitative model that recognizes that there may be an apparent causal connection between the offense charged and the rehabilitative needs of the client. This office focuses on the social, cultural and economic conditions which often result in the defendant's decision to commit an offense. PTI strives, through its counseling mechanism, to solve personal problems of clients which lead to crime. Ideally, these clients are deterred from future criminal involvement.

A simple description of the process for PTI application through PTI participation is as follows:

· A client applies to PTI. An appointment to be interviewed by a Probation Officer/Investigator. The interview is completed during which background information is then verified through an investigative procedure. During this interview, if it is discovered that there is need for a substance abuse or psychological evaluation, a referral is made.

· An application takes four to six weeks to process. The report is compiled from correspondence, the interview, substance abuse evaluation, etc.. It is then reviewed by the PTI Supervisor, the County Prosecutor and the Judge.

· If admitted into PTI, the client is seen by the Probation Officer. Any problems are addressed by the Probation Officer, and all drug offenders are urine monitored by the Probation Officer with the assistance of a substance abuse evaluator.

UNION COUNTY DRUG COURT PROGRAM

DRUG COURT TEAM

TITLE LOCATION PHONE NUMBER

Hon. William A. Daniel

Drug Court Judge

5th Floor – Tower

908-659-4725

Mathew Hagler

Coordinator

6th Floor - Tower

908-659-4680

Danielle Jones

Team Leader

6th Floor - Tower

908-659-3233

Jill Remaykis

TASC Evaluator

6th Floor - Tower

908-659-4679

Gaye Buffaloe

TASC Evaluator

6th Floor - Tower

908-659-4682

Takesha Woody-Royal

TASC Evaluator

6th Floor - Tower

908-659-4678

Al-Amin Ali

TASC Evaluator

6th Floor - Tower

908-659-4667

Audrey Richardson

Sr. Probation Officer (PSI)

4th Floor – Annex

908-659-4676

Joe Lubrano

Investigator

6th Floor - Tower

908-659-4666

Karyn Weingarten

Prosecutor

Prosecutor’s Office

908-527-4500

Whitney Fisher

Public Defender’s Office

65 Jefferson Ave.
Elizabeth, NJ

908-820-3070

Patricia Markey

Judicial Clerk 3

6 th Floor - Tower

908-659-4675

Irma Roman Judicial Clerk 3 6th Floor – Tower 908-659-4691

PROBATION DIVISION STAFF
Supervising Probation Officer: Ann Mullan, CSS2 908-659-4030
Senior Probation Officer: Nicole Occhino 908-659-4034
Senior Probation Officer: Bertha Moran 908-659-4032
Senior Probation Officer: Nia Taylor 908-659-4066
Senior Probation Officer: Ilissa Benjamin 908-659-4058
Senior Probation Officer: Odalis Benitez 908-659-4029
Senior Probation Officer: Carlos Vaca 908-659-4038
Probation Officer: Corey Wimberley 908-659-4036

One of the most innovative and apparently successful approaches to handling drug related cases is the Drug Court Program. The first treatment Drug Court was established in Miami, Florida in 1989. Today over 1753 Drug Courts are operational in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Drug Courts rely on a strong collaboration among judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and related supporting agencies (Criminal Division, Probation Division and Department of Corrections) and a partnership with substance abuse treatment providers and other community organizations. Drug Courts share an understanding that substance abuse is a chronic, progressive relapsing disorder that can be successfully treated. Drug Courts seek to break the cycle of addiction that fuels drug related crime.

Drug Court utilizes a combination of sanctions and incentives along with intensive judicial and probation supervision, substance abuse treatment, urine monitoring and other services to support recovery and reduce the rate of re-offense and drug use among program participants.

The general program enrollment criteria are as follows:

  • The present offense was committed while under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance or was committed to acquire property or monies to support that defendant's drug dependency.
  • The Court is satisfied that substance abuse treatment and monitoring will serve to benefit the defendant by addressing his or her dependency and will thereby reduce the likelihood that they will commit another offense.
  • The Court is satisfied that the defendant has demonstrated amenability to correcting his or her drug dependency.
  • The defendant did not possess a firearm at the time of the offense and did not possess a firearm at the time of any pending criminal charge.
  • The offense did not involve the distribution or the conspiracy or attempt to distribute a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) or CDS analog to a juvenile and did not occur on school property.
  • The defendant has not been previously convicted of and does not have a pending charge of murder, aggravated manslaughter, robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault or sexual assault.
  • The defendant is not a high ranking member of a drug trafficking network.
  • The defendant maintains a stable Union County residence.

This program requires a commitment to rehabilitation that involves the following:

  • Compliance with all of the treatment directives imposed by the Court and the substance abuse evaluator.
  • Admission to a Division of Addiction Services approved drug treatment facility.
  • A term of intensive probation supervision from 18 months to 5 years depending on the offense and the offender.
  • Mandatory urine monitoring as deemed necessary by the Court, probation officer, substance abuse evaluator or treatment provider.
  • Appearance before the Drug Court Judge on a regular basis. To be accepted into the drug court program an offender must be found legally and clinically acceptable by the drug court team.
  • Other criteria as set forth by the Court or Union County Prosecutor's Office based on the nature of the offense and the specific charges filed.

For additional information regarding the Drug Court Program contact any of the team members indicated above. Applications and additional information is available in the Drug Court Unit located on the 6th floor in the Court House, Elizabeth, NJ.

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