State v. Quintin Watson, 254 N.J. 558 (2023)


Joseph A. Hayden, Jr. argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court on behalf of amicus curiae ACDL-NJ in a case that addressed two issues: (1) the admissibility of “first-time in court identifications”; and (2) the extent to which investigators may narrate video recordings during testimony. Defendant's conviction was overturned because the court found that conducting an identification for the first time in court, in front of a jury risked depriving the defendant of his due process rights. The Court held that such identifications can only be conducted where good cause exists and outlined procedural protections for when first-time in-court identifications are necessary. In addition, the Court found that continuous running commentary by a person who has only reviewed a recording, as opposed to witnessing the events firsthand, is impermissible. The Court set forth safeguards to limit the use of video narration, including providing opposing counsel with a summary of proposed testimony pretrial. Our brief focused primarily on the propriety of video narration under the rules of evidence, and the Court applied this evidentiary analysis in reaching its conclusion that the video narration in this case was improper.

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