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Open Government Advocacy Project:
New Jersey pays $162,500 to settle Public Defender\'s malpractice claim

Issue Detail:

On January 25, 2013, the State of New Jersey agreed to pay $162,500 to a man who sued the Cape May County Office of Public Defender for legal malpractice. In his peition to file a late Tort Claim notice, John Rogers he was wrongfully convicted in 1999 for drug trafficking and spent 6 years in state prison. In 2007, the Appellate Division held that the public defender who represented him court, Erica Smith, provided him with ineffective legal counsel. After the Appellate Division reversed his conviction and remanded the matter for a new trial, Rogers claimed that the trial court dismissed all charges against him. The Appellate Division\'s October 23, 2007 decision, which details the ineffective lawyering that Rogers received, is on-line here. The case is captioned Rogers Cape May County Office of the Public Defender, et al, Docket No. CPM-L-480-09 and Rogers\' attorney was Joseph C. Grassi of Wildwood. Case documents are on-line here. None of Rogers\'s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The $162,500 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by New Jersey, Erica Smith or any other official. All that is known for sure is that New Jersey, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Rogers $162,500 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants\' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened. ABOUT ME AND WHY I\'M POSTING THIS. I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s Open Government Advocacy Project which seeks to increase governmental transparency and accountability, particularly at a local level. For more information on the Libertarian Party, go to http://www.njlp.org. As part of my work, I routinely check civil court cases where at least one of the parties is a government agency or official. Most often, these settlement agreements are never revealed to the public. I post them on the Libertarian Party\'s blog at http://njcivilsettlements.blogspot.com and other public forums because I believe that civil settlements, regardless of amount, may be of interest to citizens and taxpayers. John Paff Somerset, New Jersey




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New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: New Jersey pays $162,500 to settle Public Defender\'s malpractice claim. February 27, 2013.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2013/2013058pN/
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