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State v. Little

New Jersey Supreme Court

May 27, 2021

The New Jersey Supreme Court vacated the defendant’s convictions for aggravated assault and weapons offenses because the trial court’s voir dire of potential jurors deprived him of a fair trial. The State alleged that the defendant committed the crime with a gun, but a weapon was never recovered. Over a defense objection, during voir dire, the trial court posed to the potential jurors: “The law does not require that the State recover a gun, even though the defendant has been charged with weapons-related offenses. If the State does not produce the physical firearm allegedly used in this case will this affect your ability as a juror?” The Supreme Court held that the question improperly suggested that jurors should not consider the absence of a handgun as a factor when they evaluated the State’s evidence.

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