New Jersey Supreme Court Rules Immigration Too Dangerous for Simple-Minded Jurors to Hear About

On January 18, in a unanimous opinion, the New Jersey Supreme Court threw out illegal alien Alexis Sanchez-Medina’s six convictions for sex crimes against four different women in the summer of 2012.  Ultimately, the justices imposed this dangerous and completely unnecessary outcome on everyone in the state because they believe hearing evidence about an individual’s immigration status makes jurors incapable of rational thought.

At trial, Sanchez-Medina chose to take the stand and testify in his own defense.  During cross-examination, the prosecutor asked him if he’d entered the country illegally, and over defense objection, the jury learned he had.  The jury convicted him on all counts, and the trial judge sentenced him to 18 1/2 years in prison.

In response to his first appeal, the State conceded they were wrong to have asked Sanchez-Medina about his immigration status.  They argued, however, the error hadn’t so clearly prejudiced him to require reversal and a new trial.  A three-judge appellate court panel agreed almost completely, affirming five of his six convictions.

Reversing the lower appellate court, the New Jersey Supreme Court’s opinion starts off its entire analysis on the wrong foot by saying Sanchez-Medina being in the country illegally isn’t by itself proof he committed the crimes.  Of course it isn’t.  It is, however, an indication of his dishonesty and lack of credibility as a witness—credibility he chose to put at issue when he gave up his 5th Amendment rights and testified at his own trial.

Indeed, New Jersey’s own Rule of Evidence 607 says that “any party … may examine the witness and introduce extrinsic evidence relevant to the issue of credibility.”  As soon as he took the stand, the State was absolutely right to ask him about his continuing dishonesty in violating immigration law, so that the jury could consider it.

Much worse even than that, however, is the court’s sweeping condemnation of immigration evidence in general, and of nearly ever allowing juries to consider it at all.  From high atop their soapbox, the court pontificates that “[b]oth today and in late 2013 when this trial took place, evidence of a defendant’s undocumented immigration status could appeal to prejudice, inflame certain jurors, and distract them from their proper role in the justice system: to evaluate relevant evidence fairly and objectively.”

The opinion makes all too clear that the justices think hearing about a defendant’s immigration status renders all jurors incapable of making a fair judgment on the merits of the case. Thus, the only solution is for the court system to hide such dangerous knowledge from the mere citizens who make up our juries: “[i]n most cases, the immigration status of a witness or party is simply irrelevant, and a jury should not learn about it.”

This will allow future illegal alien defendants in New Jersey get to have their cake and eat it too: to take the stand and testify without the State being allowed to fully cross-examine them, and without a jury being allowed to consider evidence that clearly calls their honesty and credibility into question.  New Jersey juries get to have the wool pulled over their eyes.  The State gets to decide whether to re-try a six-year-old case with an arm tied behind their backs.  And the victims get to suffer either the trauma of a second trial, or the injustice of the charges being dismissed.

All because the New Jersey Supreme Court thinks mentioning immigration makes juries into unthinking bigoted mobs.

About Author


Dave joined FAIR in 2017 after more than ten years as an Assistant State Attorney in Broward County, Florida. His prosecutorial experience covered trial litigation at the misdemeanor and felony levels, drug court and mental health court, and two years as an intake attorney in the juvenile division working closely with law enforcement. Before this, he was a legislative analyst/staff attorney with the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House of Representatives, where he assisted state legislators in ensuring the effectiveness and constitutionality of legislation on a wide variety of subject matter. In both capacities, he often dealt with the interaction of state law and immigration. Dave holds BAs in History and International Relations from American University and a JD from Tulane University Law School.


  1. avatar

    New Jersey is just another form of California insanity. This creep of a Mexican illegal will be out raping more women I am sure. It would be too bad if one of them are related to these so called justices let them find out what it is like to have females in their own families raped maybe they would think twice before letting another rapist off the hook and escape justice and leave the women in their state open to this heinous criminal.

  2. avatar
    Randy Sorick on

    It’s kind of ironic when we American citizens go to trial, our previous past can be brought on cross examination. Mine was and it had nothing to do what I was in for. They keep giving every thing to the illegals, and Sh#t on America. Why?? Don’t they realize those in power will be the 1st thrown to the wolves when “they” get in power?

  3. avatar

    Some judges must be impeached. These New Jersey ones would be a good place to start. The state legislature has the authority to impeach; does it have the guts?

  4. avatar

    The people of New Jersey must be as stupid the people of California.
    New Jersey gun laws are as idiotic as California’s, talk about dangerous places to live.
    Sadly a lot of Californians migrate to Texas and then try to screw it up to.

  5. avatar
    George V Rowe on

    Looks like New Jersey is another state for those who believe in law and order to avoid.
    I suspect that their Supremes might also require a jury of an illegals peers be illegals.
    Please check out – Fully Informed Jury Association. I suspect that most judges
    are violently opposed to a a Fully Informed Jury which has the right and responsibility to
    judge the law in a given case as well as the evidence. The jury has the right to insist
    on full and compete disclosure of any and all evidence. This works for both the defense
    and the prosecution. A friend of mine when a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge
    instituted on occasion an “advisory jury” hearing. When Dan described it to me I noted
    “if you believe in the jury system that is how it should work.
    Dan responded: “Fully Informed Jury.” I responded: “Yes.”
    This means that a jury has more power than a judge. The “judge” is an arbitrator, the jury JUDGES,
    Most judges hate the concept of FIJA and if you acknowledge even knowing what FIJA stands for
    you will most likely be excused (if not worse, like contempt of court) and never see a jury box.

    • avatar

      Agee with Kaey, lets follow the rule to law which says all illegal immigrants must be deported immediately.

  6. avatar
    kinthenorthwest on

    Apparently even Tweeter feels its wrong to post the truth about Illegals.
    Just got my account suspended due to calling Illegals criminals.
    I have been banned-All of 9 Messages were DACA/Illegals All of the 9 posts I had to delete were to do with DACA/Illegals -Screened shot it all.
    “We’ve temporarily limited some of your account features
    What happened?
    We have determined that this account violated the Twitter Rules. Specifically, for:

    Violating our rules against hateful conduct.
    You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

  7. avatar

    “During cross-examination, the prosecutor asked him if he’d entered the country illegally, and over defense objection, the jury learned he hadn’t.”

    I don’t think that’s what you really meant, I think you meant that the “jury learned he had”.

    • avatar
      George V Rowe on

      Please reread.
      “During cross-examination, the prosecutor asked him if he’d entered the country illegally, and over defense objection, the jury learned he had.”

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