Edward Neafsey

Edward M. Neafsey was first in his family to graduate college. He is now an adjunct professor at Rutgers Law School – Newark. He teaches courses in criminal procedure and military justice. He is a volunteer mentor in NJ’s Veterans Diversion Program, and he handles pro bono mediations and arbitrations assigned by the court. In the interim, he has remained committed to the pursuit of justice through public service, continued learning and the education of others.

After graduating Assumption College and Southwestern Law School, Neafsey joined the U.S. Army as a Judge Advocate General attorney. He served as a Captain in the First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas and in Germany. He was awarded an Army Commendation Medal for that service.

After the military, Neafsey spent over 33 years in public service at the county, state ,and federal levels. He was an assistant prosecutor, public defender, deputy attorney general, assistant counsel to Governor Tom Kean, Assistant Commissioner for Enforcement at the NJDEP during the Florio administration, Acting County Prosecutor, first State Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, Inspector General, Acting Director of State Police Affairs, and First Assistant Attorney General. After leaving the executive branch, he was a Superior Court Judge in the civil and criminal divisions in Monmouth and Mercer Counties. He was retired when Superstorm Sandy struck, but he elected to serve as the lead legal advisor for the public assistance program in FEMA’s NJ field office. For that work, he received a U.S. Department of Homeland Security General Counsel’s Award for Excellence.

Neafsey, a certified criminal trial attorney for two decades before becoming a judge, tried murder cases for the defense and prosecution and as a judge. He handled two capital trials as a public defender. In both, juries unanimously rejected the death penalty. He also worked on the amendment to NJ’s death penalty law that barred the execution of juveniles. After the NJ Supreme Court recognized the battered woman’s syndrome defense, he was the first to use it. The jury in that Essex County murder trial found the defendant not guilty on all charges.

Neafsey prosecuted two major prison cases. First, as a deputy attorney general, he tried eight correction officers from Trenton State Prison. The jury found seven guilty of official misconduct for assaulting inmates and filing false reports. Second, as Acting Union County Prosecutor, he spearheaded an investigation that led to the indictment of 12 Union County correction officers who assaulted immigrant detainees and conspired to cover-up the abuse. Ten were convicted. A Star Ledger columnist, noting he took on tough cases, called him the “people’s prosecutor.”

Appointed by the Chief Justice of the NJ Supreme Court, Neafsey served two terms as Chair of the Court’s Minority Concerns Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and the Minority Defendant. Together, the Subcommittee and the Public Advocate produced a brochure that explained how persons completing probation or parole can restore their right to vote. Neafsey also taught judges at the Judiciary’s Annual Judicial College and Judicial Orientation Program, where he addressed the handling of search warrant applications, testimonial motions and jury trials.

Neafsey is Chair-Elect of the NJ State Bar Association’s Military Law and Veterans Affairs Section. He served as Chair of the NJ State Bar’s Criminal Law Section, and he has delivered continuing legal education lectures on a variety of topics including environmental enforcement and the Northern Ireland peace process.

Each of NJ’s three law schools has published a law review article written by Neafsey; the articles discussed criminal justice, enhanced interrogation techniques and civil rights. His Op-ed articles have appeared in The Star Ledger, Asbury Park Press, Trenton Times, NJ Law Journal and Irish Echo newspaper. In 1991, his article – “Bicycling the Jersey Shore” – and photographs were published in the New Jersey Outdoors (Spring) magazine.

Neafsey has received certificates in a variety of courses: Peace Studies, from the Irish School of Ecumenics; Restorative Justice, from Simon Fraser University; and Trauma Response and Crisis Intervention, from Rutgers School of Social Work.


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