In a brief filed to the New Jersey Supreme Court, attorneys for Rabbi Osher Eisemann have accused prosecutors of willfully concealing crucial evidence, a violation known as the Brady Act, which requires the disclosure of exculpatory evidence before trial. The documents at the center of this controversy were reluctantly released by prosecutors last month, only after a judge’s order compelled them to do so.
According to the defense’s brief submitted to the New Jersey Supreme Court, the recently disclosed documents shed light on the prosecution’s deliberate efforts to hide exculpatory evidence from the trial. The controversy began when prosecutors were slapped with a Brady Act violation for failing to disclose exonerating evidence prior to the trial. This evidence, it was later revealed, was buried in a 347-page document known as “Exhibit F,” which prosecutors initially presented to the court in a heavily redacted form, conveniently omitting their notes and markups.
Superior Court Judge Joseph Paone subsequently ordered the full “Exhibit F” to be handed over to the defense. After a year of resistance, prosecutors finally released a sanitized version of the document last month. The defense argues that this was a clear attempt to keep exculpatory evidence concealed and thwart a fair trial.
The defense’s brief outlines a disturbing pattern of the prosecution’s actions. When the prosecution needed to present two entries from the document to the court, they presented two different exhibits instead of showing the corresponding entry in “Exhibit F.” This maneuver, according to the defense, was done to prevent the court and the jury from seeing the second entry in “Exhibit F,” which would have exonerated Rabbi Eisemann by revealing that someone else, not him, had made the entry.
In their brief to the New Jersey Supreme Court, Rabbi Eisemann’s attorneys highlight the intentional nature of the prosecution’s actions. The prosecution admitted that it wanted the jury to “infer” that Rabbi Eisemann’s fingerprints were on certain entries in QuickBooks, but the evidence showed otherwise, and the prosecution knew this well before the trial. The defense claims that the state went to great lengths to keep “Exhibit F” hidden, even creating a separate exhibit to avoid disclosing its contents.
The implications of an intentional Brady Act violation are serious. Not only could it lead to the dismissal of convictions, but it might result in the entire case being permanently dismissed, preventing prosecutors from retrying the case. However, such a motion can only be submitted to the trial court after the New Jersey Supreme Court concludes its process.
The recent revelations have intensified the legal battle. Earlier, a three-judge appeals panel ruled in favor of Rabbi Eisemann’s right to a new trial, agreeing that the new evidence would likely have changed the jury’s verdict and that the prosecutors violated the Brady Act. Now, the prosecutors are seeking intervention from the state’s highest court, but the chances of the case being accepted are slim, as the New Jersey Supreme Court typically accepts only about five percent of cases presented to them.
This latest 23-page brief submitted to the New Jersey Supreme Court represents the final arguments before the court makes its decision, which is expected in September. The outcome of this pivotal case will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for all parties involved.