New Jersey's top court ruled Monday that defendants do not have an absolute right to skip their sentencings.

NJ Supreme Court (Facebook)

A unanimous state Supreme Court found judges must consider the interests of the public, defendant, victims and the state when weighing whether to order a defendant to appear.

The ruling came in the case of Giuseppe Tedesco, who requested a waiver not to appear at his murder sentencing.

He argued that seeking the waiver request should be adequate to allow him to miss the proceeding, which was initially scheduled for March but has been delayed so the court could weigh this issue. But the court, agreeing with both a trial judge and appeals panel, said it wasn't.

"We find that defendant's reasons for wanting to be absent from sentencing are not special or persuasive," Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote for the court. "Balanced against them are factors that favor his presence: the seriousness of the offense, the victim's interest in having defendant present as she addresses the court, and concerns about public accountability, deterrence, and the administration and integrity of the justice system."

Tedesco, of Hopatcong, was convicted earlier this year of the fatal 2010 shooting of 22-year-old Alyssa Ruggieri. He faces life in prison plus 20 years.

The case got broader attention when the 27-year-old Tedesco allegedly mouthed obscenities at jurors as the verdict was read, then threatened the victim's brother, sparking a courtroom brawl that left a corrections officer with a broken leg. He now faces charges of obstruction, aggravated assault of a corrections officer and making terroristic threats.


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