State v. Hedgespeth, 249 N.J. 234 (2021)


Matthew E. Frisch argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court on behalf of amicus curiae ACDL-NJ that the trial court’s determination that the state could use the defendant’s prior convictions to impeach him under N.J.R.E. 609, resulting in his decision not to testify, required reversal because it was a structural error undermining the defendant’s right to testify. For policy reasons, the Court was unwilling to find such an error to be structural, and therefore reversable in all cases, but the Court did find that in this case a reversal of the defendant’s conviction was required as the trial court’s Rule 609 error deprived the defendant of a fair trial. The Supreme Court also held that the state’s introduction of an affidavit from a non-testifying officer setting forth the results of a search of the state firearm permit registry as evidence that the defendant lacks a permit is testimonial and violates the Confrontation Clause.

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