To the Editor:
Over the last three years or so, I have experienced the New Jersey judicial system in a very personal way. On February 22, 2016 my brother Tim and his daughter Bridget were killed in a violent, catastrophic crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Within 24 hours, the driver of the car who rear ended Tim’s car in excess of 50 MPH was charged with two counts each of aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and drug possession. And so the process began.
Arraignment hearing, bond hearing, motion hearings, “104 hearings”, change of defense counsel, change of prosecutor, change of presiding judge. Real life dramas do not happen neatly like an hour-long episode of “Law and Order.” Finally three years later, Tim and Bridget’s place in line, their place in the “system” was first. A three week trial in March this year concluded with guilty verdicts.
So I write today to say thank you to all those in the “system” that did their jobs. Thank you to the State Police and emergency responders who were first on the scene and sought to help Tim and Bridget. Thank you to the civilians like Mr. Cruz who gave of themselves that day. It was a gruesome, unforgettable scene. Thank you to the State Troopers and detectives who conducted the investigation. Thank you to the medical examiner and lab personnel who compiled evidence. Than you to the prosecutors, Leo Hernandez and Lynne Seborowski, who meticulously constructed the case.
Kudos to Judge Galis-Menendez, her staff and Sheriff’s officers for the safe and professional conduct of the trial. Thanks also to the 16 individuals who performed their “civic duty” for a term of three weeks jury service. My biggest “shout out” though goes to Silena and her staff in the Victims’ Advocates office. They are truly “guardian angels, there every step of the way. Thank you all.
The day the verdict was rendered, I remember saying to myself – “this was justice.” I could exhale. And while no verdict will ever give Tim and Bridget another breath, all these people worked to give them justice. And I further realized that all these people would come to work again the next day and start again. New cases, other files, day after day after day. I pray for them to have strength to bring justice to more.
Finally, I hope you will all, in your own way, pray for Tim and Bridget. Please honor their memory at CatchYouLater.org.