Retired MCPO Chief Assistant Prosecutor Honored at the Annual College
Hundreds of law enforcement officials from all 21 New Jersey counties recently met in Atlantic City to stay abreast of ongoing issues and to continue their legal education. During the annual college, a retired Chief Assistant Prosecutor for the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office was honored for his years of service, and an MCPO Assistant Prosecutor was crowned the Assistant Prosecutors’ Association of New Jersey Double Jeopardy Champion.
The three-day training program at the Borgata Hotel & Casino was part of the 2022 Annual College of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey and included an appearance by State Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.
The college took place on November 19-21 and was hosted by Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office.
Over three days, the state’s 21 county prosecutors, assistant prosecutors, and members of the state Attorney General’s Office took part in an array of breakout sessions focusing on varying legal issues. Some of the educational classes attended by Morris County Prosecutor's Office staff included Talking to a Jury: Are You Getting Through?, Parabon NanoLabs Genealogy Presentation, Ethics of Leadership, the Art and Science of Excellent Attorney Voir Dire, and Stalked: A Case Study.
There were also general meetings involving the 21 County Prosecutors, First Assistant Prosecutors, Assistant Prosecutors, Forensic Nurse Coordinators, and Victim Witness Coordinators.
A highlight of the college was awards given to three individuals for their outstanding achievements, including former Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Chief Assistant Prosecutor John McNamara, who retired last August after a quarter century with Morris County. McNamara was also a featured speaker at this year’s college.
A graduate of the University of Scranton and Catholic University of America, McNamara was hired in 1990 as an Assistant District Attorney with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He became an Assistant Prosecutor with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office in 1996 and handled a variety of cases until he left the office in 1998 to practice criminal and civil litigation for a short period of time.
In 2000, he returned to the MCPO and became Chief of the Homicide/Major Crimes Unit for over a decade. McNamara tried numerous homicide cases during his career with the MCPO, including State v. Omar Thomas, which involved the shooting deaths of two employees during a robbery of the Funcoland Video Game store in Roxbury; and State v. Porfirio Jimenez, which involved the brutal murder and attempted sexual assault of a 10-year-old Morristown boy.
During the Jimenez prosecution, McNamara handled numerous first-impression issues, including two interlocutory appeals to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Most notable was his argument before the Supreme Court on the first-impression issue as to the procedures to be adopted in New Jersey to determine mental retardation in the context of a capital murder case.
He also conducted the very first Frye hearing on Mitochondrial DNA in NJ. After serving as Chief of the Major Crimes Unit, McNamara became the Chief Supervisor of the Professional Standards Unit, Financial Crimes Unit, and the Appellate Unit until his retirement in August of 2022. He mentored many Assistant Prosecutors during his career and was the go-to person at the MCPO on many complex legal issues.
His advocacy for the State did not end with his work within the MCPO, and over the years he became involved in matters that affected the entire State. John was appointed Lead Counsel for the Office of the Attorney General to represent the State on a hearing before the Special Master upon Remand from the NJ Supreme Court on State v. Henderson. He has served numerous times as Amicus Curiae counsel on behalf of the CPANJ.
McNamara also served five terms as a designee to the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Model Criminal Jury Charges, and eleven years on the Supreme Court of NJ Criminal Practice Committee. Additionally, he participated as a committee member on the Attorney General Post-Conviction DNA Review Committee and the Attorney General Working Group on Electronic Recordation of Stationhouse Interviews.
McNamara currently teaches Appellate Advocacy at Seton Hall University School of Law.
Also during the 2022 Annual College, MCPO Assistant Prosecutor Samantha Polizzi won the APANJ Double Jeopardy Tournament, leading the pack in points for much of the contest.