New Jersey Public Defender welcomes District Court ruling in Marshall case. Calls Judge Irenas’ decision “the only fair thing to do.”.
Marshall’s death sentence was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas on the grounds that Marshall did not receive effective assistance of counsel during the penalty phase.
“Given the circumstances under which Mr. Marshall was sentenced to death, the decision today by Judge Irenas is the only fair thing to do,” Public Defender Segars said. “During the course of this appeal, it has been suggested that this office holds attorneys to too high a standard in the penalty phase. This ruling confirms our belief that there is no such thing as too high a standard when you’re talking about life and death.”
NJOPD Appellate Attorney Stephen Kirsch and Assistant Public Defender Joseph Krakora, the director of the office’s Capital Litigation Unit, argued that the trial attorney, Glenn Zeitz, did not investigate whether there were relatives or friends of Marshall’s who would make a plea to the jury for his life. No witnesses were called on Marshall’s behalf during the penalty phase. Zeitz did not make a plea to the jury for Marshall’s life, instead telling them that, “whatever you feel is just, we can live with.”
Kirsch and Krakora presented several witnesses, including one of Marshall’s sons and his former brother-in-law, both of whom testified that they would have made a plea to the jury for Marshall’s life but were not approached by Zeitz to do so.
Public Defender Segars said a succession of NJOPD attorneys who handled the case over the years all contributed to the ultimate success of the appeal.
“The work of our attorneys, investigators and support staff on this case over the years has been nothing short of Herculean,” Public Defender Segars said. “It is a testament to their dedication, perseverance and skill that their work over the past three decades has resulted in Mr. Marshall having the opportunity that he did not get in his original trial – the opportunity to have his life spared.”