SOUTH ORANGE — A former state child-protection agency employee who was convicted of lewdness has lost an appeal that argued that a white witness may have misidentified him as a suspect because he is black.

Michael D. Emanuel, 45, was arrested in 2013 after women sitting at the township train station told police that he had taken his penis out of his pants and masturbated in front of them. He then followed them out of the station with his penis still hanging out his pants, witnesses said.

In January 2015, a Municipal Court judge fined him the maximum $1,000 plus court costs.

One of the four women, a German national working in the township as an au pair, pointed Emanuel out to police who responded to the scene and found him in his car.

During trial, the woman — who was identified in the appellate decision by the alias “Julia” in order to protect her privacy — remembered the suspect as cross-eyed and walking with a limp.

Another witness, "Donna", testified in court that Emanuel was not the man she saw on the station platform.

But the trial judge said he did not find Donna's testimony credible because her description of the suspect changed from the time of the incident to the trial.

Emanuel, who claims he was just in the neighborhood to buy a hamburger and milkshake, argued  in his appeal that the judge failed to question the accuracy of Julia’s identification of him in a cross-racial situation.

He argued that while judges “will not exhibit overt and intentional biases on the bench,” they have to watch out for “unconscious racial prejudice” and “its insidious impact.”

The appellate decision Friday by a three-judge panel notes that the state’s courts are “keenly aware of the insidious effects of latent, subconscious racial bias.” The state Supreme Court has “recognized that witnesses may have a more difficult time when they identify a person of a different race.”

But the panel found “no basis to infer” that the judge or Municipal Court in Emanuel’s case “manifested any racial bias or other tupe of invidious discrimination against defendant.”

The panel, however, did send the case back to the Municipal Court for resentencing because the judge had not provided Emanuel a chance to make a statement to the court before the sentence was handed down.

Emanuel was represented in the appeal by Raymond M. Baldino and Henry F. Furst of the firm First & Lurie.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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