I am now being asked for more information and explanation on this recent high-profile DUI case in Cumberland County NJ and I want to be sure to separate the case facts from my comments and opinions.
Here are the basic facts about the case as I know them:
1) Cumberland County NJ Assistant County prosecutor Harrison Waters told me on Tuesday (5/22/2012) that on the previous Friday (5/18/2012) Judge Darrell Fineman dismissed all charges against admitted drunk driver Roger Mauro Jr. on the basis that his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated.
2) As I understand the verdict, prosecutors simply took too long to bring the case to trial. County prosecutor Jennifer Webb McRae told me that this was a mess-up by her predecessors.
3) Mauro admits to daily substance abuse since age 14 and admits to drunk driving on the day that he hit me and afterwards.
4) He has been driving for more than five years even after his arrest and admission of guilt to the 3rd DUI.
5) Mauro will not face any criminal consequences whatsoever and will be allowed to retain his driver’s license.
6) Mauro had two prior drug convictions and this was facing a third DUI charge as well as a number of other related charges. The charges dismissed last week were:
39:4-50 Driving while intoxicated
39:4-50.2 refusal to take blood alcohol test
39:4-96 reckless driving
39:4-129 hit and run
39:4-130 failure to make accident report
30:3-4 driving unregistered vehicle
39:6b-2 driving with no insurance
39:10-11 failure to obtain vehicle title
7) A more serious criminal charge of “assault by vehicle” by a 2007 grand jury indictment had previously been dismissed, apparently also due to a mess up by the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s brief explains the details of their mess ups.
8) Mauro has never submitted or passed a court-ordered sobriety test.
9) I know that there have been many criminal complaints against Mauro. I know this because I made several of them as his neighbor. I have talked with other neighbors who made complaints about Mauro to police in other instances. Apparently there have only been two successful criminal prosecutions in the past three decades. I have no information and cannot explain as to why charges were not pursued in the other complaints.
10) I understand why neighbors are outraged and I have pledged my support to work with lawmakers to close the loopholes in the legal system that allow lifelong confessed criminals like Mauro to avoid prosecution.
Much of my information comes from the brief filed on April 5, 2012 by the prosecutor’s office. It is available through the Cumberland County court. My annotated copy that was provided by the county’s Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy is stored online at http://sdrv.ms/KQURB4
In addition to these ten basis facts on the case, I expect to offer more detailed opinions as to what went wrong in the Mauro prosecution with the citizens and lawmakers who have offered to join in the effort to find a solution. I am aware that publicity from this case in combination with the Sotomayer case reported in Vineland (5 consecutive DUIs) in this same week is likely to stir public reaction and I will do my best to handle it in a fair and responsible manner.