The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office consists of twenty-nine (29) attorneys on staff, including Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae and First Assistant Prosecutor Harold Shapiro. Under the current organizational plan, the Prosecutor and First Assistant Prosecutor have overall managerial responsibilities for the entire office.
The office is broken down into the following units:
Special Litigation Unit
The unit’s main function is to handle post-conviction filings, such as direct appeals filed by criminal defendants to the NJ Superior Court, Appellate Division and petitions for certification to the NJ Supreme Court as well as post- conviction relief motions. The unit also handles written briefs and legal argument before the appellate courts. Appeals from Municipal Court such as drunk driving and other motor vehicle violations, plus disorderly persons’ offenses are a function as well.
This unit also handles extradition matters, expungement petitions, OPRA requests, OPRA complaints, Habeas Corpus petitions, appeals of firearms permits, asset forfeiture matters in addition to sex offender classification and monitoring program are the responsibility of the Special Litigation Unit. The unit is called upon to research complex legal issues for our trial section of the office.
Juvenile/Domestic Violence Unit
This unit focuses on both the prosecution of serious juvenile offenses and the need to deter and redirect less serious juvenile offenders. Additionally, assistant prosecutors in this unit handle the screening, preparation and prosecution of criminal contempt and weapon forfeiture cases involving domestic violence.
The Trial Units are supervised by Trial Chief Carl W. Cavagnaro who oversees the following units:
Grand Jury Unit
This unit receives and reviews all criminal complaints, other than those handled by the Senior Trial Team and the Special Victims’ Unit. Complaints are reviewed, which require the receipt of the initial police reports, witness statements and follow up investigations. This unit handles all bail motions and/or probable cause motions prior to indictment. Cases are either dismissed, remanded to municipal court or presented to the Cumberland County Grand Jury for indictment. Once a matter is indicted, it is then referred to the Trial Team for disposition. The Grand Jury Unit also participates in the Cumberland County Pre-indictment Program (PIC) in which cases are listed before a Judge prior to indictment with a pre-trial offer in the hope that a plea agreement can be reached in the early stages of the criminal process.
This unit handles cases after they are indicted, including all pre-trial motions, negotiations for plea, trial and sentencing.
Senior Trial Team
This unit is assigned major crimes such as homicides, death by auto and substantial gang and drug cases. The senior trial attorneys assigned to this unit are on-call and handle many questions from local law enforcement while working investigations. Attorneys in this unit handle the cases they consult on from beginning to its conclusion.
Special Victims’ Unit
The Special Victims’ Unit (SVU) handles cases involving sex crimes and child endangerment related offenses. Given the nature of these offenses, the assistant prosecutor is normally involved with these cases prior to the filing of charges and when the case is in the initial stage of the investigation. For those reasons they handle the case from beginning to its conclusion.
Drug Court is a diversionary program “specialized court” that was created by the Judiciary for those legally defined “non-violent” offenders of the law who are either addicted to drugs or alcohol and who will benefit from drug or alcohol treatment