NJ WILLIAMS CASE: DISCLOSING THE IDENTITY OF A CI
New Jersey State Court Refuses to Disclose Informants Identity in Criminal Case
The New Jersey State Court has recently denied a motion for the disclosure of a confidential informants identity. Derrick Williams, the defendant-respondent in the case of STATE of New Jersey v. Derrick WILLIAMS, had filed a motion with the trial court to reveal the confidential informant’s identity. However, upon appeal, the Superior Court concluded that Williams was not entitled to know who the confidential informant was.
Background of the Case
On 9th October 1999, three armed men wearing scarves over their faces entered a Bayonne McDonalds restaurant and fled with around $2,000, including a sizeable amount of quarters wrapped in clear plastic. Witnesses said they saw chrome-colored handguns with them during the robbery. The Jersey City police talked to an informant who alleged that he conversed with three men bragging that they were stick-up guys and had robbed local drug dealers some time ago using chrome-colored handguns.
Manuel Colon later confessed his involvement in the McDonalds robbery and identified Derrick Williams as one of his partners who participated in this crime. When investigators went to Willams house, he claimed he knew Anthony Dudley but denied any involvement in McDonald’s robbery.
Defendants Request to Reveal Confidential Informants Identity
Derrick Williams requested that he should be able to obtain information on the unnamed confidential informant so that he could demonstrate that he was wrongly accused by providing background information about his partners involved in prior robberies. He argued that his physical description did not match that provided by the informant and hence requested information relating to their source’s identity.
Legal Precedent for Informants Privilege
The courts established informants privilege as an essential tool for law enforcement officials as it encourages citizens’ participation by disclosing what they know about crimes discreetly without fear of retaliation or repercussion. The purpose of the informants privileged information is to help in the efforts of the prosecution and not for the informant’s benefit.
To consider a defendants application under N.J.R.E 404(b), courts reverse evidence to determine exculpatory evidence, whether it reduces or overturns criminal charges against a defendant. The courts observed that most informants would not have valuable exculpatory evidence because they do not place persons at the location of a crime.
The court held that Williams request was invalid, similar to two prior cases where prosecutors refused to reveal confidential informants’ identities (State v, Foreshaw & State v. Milligan). In this case, the court concluded that confidential information given by the informant only constituted tips and did not provide essential information on who participated in McDonald’s robbery. Furthermore, investigators did not rely on tips of the informant since Manuel Colon identified Derrick Williams identifying him as one of his partners during robbery.
In recent times, confidentiality agreements have become closely scrutinized with respect to witness protection and informational privacy laws. This case reinforces why those involved in confidential relationships should keep certain pieces of data private in upholding ethical standards regarding protocol implementation without compromising what has been deemed a protected conversation. Nonetheless, justice is determinative following statutory regulations within selective jurisdictional bounds through legal precedent instead of subjective whims when identification issues arise as argued by Derrick William’s defense legal team.
NEW JERSEY CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS