For the professional edge in your day-to-day practice, rely on the most timely, objective reporting on significant developments, trends, and emerging patterns in criminal law today—Criminal Law...
April 8 — A convicted killer will get a new sentence because the judge remarked in an unrelated matter that he “always” dishes out 60-year terms in first-degree murder cases, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled April 7.
Even though the comment came more than a year after Patrick McFarlane was sentenced for gunning down a robbery victim and even though the judge cited on the record the aggravating and mitigating factors he took into account when sentencing McFarlane, the statement cast enough of a cloud on the process that it undermined public confidence in the end result, the court said.
A reasonable person might deduce that this judge “arbitrarily imposes a predetermined sentence on those convicted by a jury of first-degree murder,” Justice Lee A. Solomon wrote for the unanimous court.
The court said that the trial judge didn't make any improper comments when sentencing McFarlane to 60 years in prison and that he didn't violate the sentencing guidelines or protocol either.
However, the judge's statement that he “always” sentences defendants convicted of first-degree murder to 60 years in prison “undermines public confidence that the unique facts of a defendant's case are considered before a sentencing decision is made,” the court said.
It said McFarlane was entitled to be resentenced by a different judge from the same “vicinage.”
The sentencing judge made the remarks 13 months after McFarlane was sentenced during a status conference in which a defendant named Brown had rejected the state's plea offer of 45 years for a first-degree murder charge.
The judge told Brown that the 45-year deal wasn't that bad because “I always give defendants convicted by a jury [of first-degree murder] a minimum of 60 years NERA [No Early Release Act], and you can check my record.”
The Public Defender's Office represented McFarlane. The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office represented the state.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lance J. Rogers in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: C. Reilly Larson at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)