The New Jersey Circuit Court of Appeals agreed yesterday to hear the prosecution’s filing to review the mistrial order of Judge Joseph Paone in the case against Rabbi Osher Eisemann. The disappointing development, while not unusual, will prolong the case for about another six months- even in the event that the appeal is rejected.
The news puts another strain on the defense campaign, which has run out of funds.
When Judge Joseph Paone struck down the convictions against Rabbi Eisemann and ordered a new trial in the case based on new exonerating testimony from a SCHI bookkeeper, the community backing Rabbi Eisemann celebrated. While the new trial was yet to be heard, things were looking up.
The prosecution filed an interlocutory appeal against the order, asking the appeals court to reinstate the original convictions. State Senator Robert Singer and other leaders slammed the attorney general’s office for dragging out the case further. But while interlocutory appeals -against a procedural ruling, not verdict- are not uncommonly rejected, the appeals court agreed to hear this one.
Askanim familiar with the matter noted that the prosecution strategy seems to be simple: Involve a new court, which has no familiarity with the case, and try to pull the wool over their eyes. As an example, it can be noted that the appeal filing argued that a new trial could not be ordered without an evidentiary hearing on the new testimony. Yet the same prosecution fought vehemently against just such an evidentiary hearing granted by Judge Benjamin Bucca. They even moved for a recusal of the judge after he supported an evidentiary hearing.
You can’t have it both ways: Argue against an evidentiary hearing in court, and then complain to the appeals court that there was no evidentiary hearing!
In fact, Judge Paone had specifically asked the prosecution, with regards to the new evidence: “Do you agree with the conclusion that an evidentiary hearing would not be warranted?”
The prosecution responded: “We agree with that, Your Honor.”
Yet the prosecutors are now trying to fool an appeals court, arguing otherwise.
The court has not laid out a timeline for the appeal, which will likley include filing of briefs and oral arguments, and may stretch to six months, after which the retrial must be scheduled and heard.
Askanim have no choice but to once again turn to the tzibbur -which has stood so solidly behind the campaign for justice- for help. Defense expenses are now averaging over $100,00 per month. The pidyon shvuyim fund is fully depleted, and urgent funds are needed to support the fight on the injustice being waged against an innocent man.
Please donate generously at pidyonshvuyim.com; by calling 732-363-1011; at BMG locker # 36; or by mail: CZR, 307 Dewey Avenue, Lakewood, NJ, 08701
As always, please continue davening for Osher ben Chana Frumit.