New Jersey School Teacher Pleads Guilty to DWI

A Randolph Middle School science teacher recently pleaded guilty to DWI. She was accepted into a pre-trial intervention (PTI) program for a separate charge related to the incident of eluding police.

Patricia R. Blakeley, 58, from Byram pleaded guilty of DWI in Randolph New Jersey on May 18 – with a blood alcohol concentration of .20 percent. Ms. Blakeley spent more than two months at an in-patient facility in Florida after her arrest.

As a New Jersey DWI Defense lawyer, I witness most clients who are charged with DWI in a state of shock and shame. I had one client tell me that being charged with DWI was like being hit square in the face from God with a two-by-four. For many clients, a DWI charge opens up a period of introspection about alcohol abuse, and the life challenges that caused the charge.

I have learned a lot from representing clients charged with DWI in New Jersey. One thing in is certain – nobody on this earth is perfect. In addition, many imperfect people are good people who can find themselves ensnared by a DWI charge. Another life certainty is that people love to judge others and expose their flaws while failing to look at their own imperfections. This is probably why we like seeing and hearing about celebrity gossip. I was a first-time visitor to a new Church, and the Pastor said during his sermon that he, like all of us, was not perfect. I respected that and immediately, he had credibility with me.

Ms. Blakeley attended in-patient counseling follow her arrest. I am sure the ordeal was stressful and embarrassing for her. She, like all of us, is not perfect. Unfortunately, for her, her error was exposed publicly which I would imagine was not an easy thing to deal with. I wish her well.

NJ DWI Defendants Sue Town & Prosecutors

Mr. Robert Pinizzotto, Esq., a former Municipal Court Prosecutor and the former head of the New Jersey Municipal Court Prosecutor’s Association, filed a lawsuit challenging the fairness of the Municipal Court System.

The lawsuit, brought by two New Jersey DWI Defendants, seeks a declaration that the Municipal Court system violates the Defendants’ constitutional rights to a fair and unbiased trial. The lawsuit charges that Judges are “subservient to the executive branch” that appoints them. This, according to the suit, makes the Judges beholden to the financial issues of the government. In other words, the focus of the Judges is generating revenue rather than dispensing justice. The suit also charges than local prosecutors are not “not bound by the same ethical obligations” as county prosecutors, rendering the system unfair for defendants.

This lawsuit is a courageous challenge to the entire New Jersey Municipal Court system. The lawsuit brings to light an issue that many practitioners complain about – but only privately. Mr. Pinizzotto, who as a Prosecutor, was in my experience always concerned primarily about dispensing justice (not just obtaining a conviction). That focus (seeking “justice” through righteousness) makes the best system of justice in the world work – you “cannot serve two masters.”

As a college student, I worked as a reporter for a local newspaper covering the local Municipal Court. On my first assignment, when the court session ended, and I was writing notes, the Judge turned to the Court Administrator and asked, “How did we do tonight?” I quickly raised my head and looked up bewildered – as if this was manager of a store asking his cashier how much merchandise was sold. This bold challenge attempts to blaze a trail where no one else has dared go. I applaud the lawsuit and the gutsy challenge.

NJ DWI Appeal Dismissed – State v. Parra

In State v. Parra (App. Div. 2010), the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the dismissal of the Defendant’s Appeal. The Defendant sought to vacate a 1997 guilty plea to DWI in a New Jersey Municipal Court. The Motion was denied in the Municipal Court, and the Defendant appealed. The Superior Court dismissed his appeal (because the appeal was not properly filed). The Defendant appealed to the New Jersey Appellate Division.

The Appellate Division upheld the dismissal of the appeal. The Court noted that the Defendant failed to properly file the appeal (filing the appeal with the “Court Clerk, Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County, Mercer County Civil Courthouse …” (not the Criminal Division Manager’s Office). Further, the Defendant did not file the appeal with the Municipal Court (as required by New Jersey Rules of Court), nor did he serve a copy on the County Prosecutor’s Office (rather he served the Municipal Court Prosecutor). These filing deficiencies were deemed fatal to the appeal pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 3:23-2, which spell out the filing requirements for a Municipal Court Appeal.

The Court said that the “violations are not mere administrative violations that can be overlooked … they are fatal to defendant’s ability to pursue an appeal in the Law Division.” The Court found that “in every single respect, defendant violated the requirements of the Rule[s].” Thus, the Appellate Division ruled, “the Law Division correctly dismissed the appeal.”

Filing appeals is intricate. If proper procedure is not followed, the appeal is subject to dismissal. This case presents an example of a NJ DWI Appeal that was fumbled, and unfortunately, the Defendant’s Appeal was dismissed. Defendants contemplating filing an appeal in a New Jersey DWI case are cautioned to seek an experienced NJ DWI Lawyer who is familiar with the appellate process. A misstep can result in the dismissal of the appeal and the loss of the right to have a full and proper review.

"Fugazi" (Fake) NJ DWI Lawyer Websites

Time after time, I find that content from my websites (www.njdwidefense.com and www.newjerseydwi.com) has been copied and placed on other lawyer-websites. They say that imitation is “the best form of flattery.” Unfortunately, clients reading these copycat websites can be fooled into believing that the lawyer whose website where my work appears actually wrote the material. In reality, the sites contain work that was simply pilfered from my sites – or a lame attempt was made to make the material look authentic. People charged with DWI in New Jersey looking for information are entitled to true and authentic material from the attorney (the learned “professional”) who purports to be writing it.

I believe that a lawyer who resorts to lifting the work of another (or who allows his website to contain pilfered work and stands by blindly) and passes it off as his own is lacking in a core set of principles, and does a disservice to the public.

In the movie “Donnie Brasco”, an FBI undercover agent (Donnie Brasco) played by Johnny Depp, infiltrates the New York Mafia. Brasco came to be known as “Don the Jeweler” because of his keen knowledge of the jewelry trade.

A real Mafioso, Lefty Ruggiero (played by Al Pacino) approached Donnie Brasco (“Don the Jeweler”) and offered to sell him a diamond. Brasco quickly examined the diamond and said to Ruggiero, “You should give it to someone who don’t know any better because that is a fugazi … it’s a fake … you want to go embarrass yourself with this thing?” Ruggiero and Brasco then went back to the person who gave Ruggiero the (fake) diamond (as payment of a debt), and relieved him of his Porsche.

The diamond was a “fugazi” – slang for a fake. Some Lawyer websites that purport to be offering nj dwi information are fugazies; they are fakes. Clients who have been charged with dwi are usually embarrassed, shame-ridden, suffering from anxiety, and are seeking genuine information from educated professionals, and they are shopping for an suitable professional dwi defense lawyer.

Watch out for fugazies – for fakes; unfortunately, the world is full of them. I tell my nine-year old daughter (who is beautiful, smart, and a gifted singer and actress – OK, I am bragging about my daughter but I cannot help it) to always be genuine, to be authentic and original – to be a critical thinker. When she was three, I once told her not to be a “copycat”, and she said daddy “what is a “coffee cat?” That is now a running joke in our house to this day; – “don’t’ be a coffee cat?”

If you are looking for GENUINE NJ DWI Information (and not a Fugazi Website), please visit my main website: www.newjerseydwi.com

Please keep the internet genuine and report plagiarism to gmmesq@aol.com. If you have comments, please post through the link below – and remember, please don’t be a fugazi.

 

State v. White – Driving While Suspended for a NJ DWI Conviction

In State v. White, the Honorable Richard Bowe, J.M.C., sitting in the Byram Township Municipal Court, ruled that the Sussex County Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (SLAP) is not available to a defendant convicted of driving while suspended (N.J.S. 39:3-40) when the reason for the suspension is a nj dwi conviction. The Court ruled therefore that the statutory jail term (10 to 90 days) is mandatory, and the only permissible option. The opinion was approved for publication on April 23, 2010 (Municipal Court Opinions are rarely published).

This is another ruling that I believe targets DWI Defendants unfairly. Defendants who commit other offenses are entitled to the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (SLAP) in lieu of jail; for instance an intentional assault on another. A Defendant whose license is suspended for multiple moving violations and even causing the death of someone else while driving recklessly and later caught driving while suspended would be entitled to the Sheriff’s Labor Assistance Program (SLAP) in lieu of jail. A Defendant convicted of DWI in New Jersey who is suspended, and then drove (for instance, to take his sick wife or children to the hospital) would be ineligible for SLAP. I find that inequality unjust.

I respect Judge Bowe. The Opinion however, has limited precedential value in other Courts. Given that this is a Municipal Court Ruling, it does not have to be followed by other Judges. Other Courts can look to the ruling as persuasive authority, but they are free to reject Judge Bowe’s ruling and reasoning.

I have been a New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyer for nearly twenty years. The defense of DWI (and those charged with driving while suspended after a conviction) has become increasingly specialized, complex and challenging. I understand the broad public policy against drunk driving. The unfair treatment of dwi defendants is however, troublesome to me. A defendant charged with a drive-by-shooting or rape can engage in plea bargaining (i.e. plead guilty to a reduced charge); a nj dwi defendant cannot. That same defendant can seek a jail alternative; a third nj dwi offender or one who drove during a period of suspension for a dwi conviction period cannot.

Greggory M. Marootian, Esq.
http://www.newjerseydwi.com/
http://www.njdwidefense.com/