Convicted Jersey City killer wins appeal for additional post-conviction relief hearings


A Jersey City man convicted of reckless homicide and burglary back in 2013 has won an appeal for additional post-conviction relief hearings, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division ruled.

Tim McGeachy. Photo courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Tim McGeachy, 55, was convicted by a Hudson County grand jury of beating Jackie Sinclair to death outside of his Dales Avenue back in May 2013 and was subsequently sentenced to 20 years in state prison, though his current release date is May 14th, 2027, court records show.

In his petition seeking PCR, he raised nine separate arguments that one or more of his four trial attorneys provided him with ineffective counsel. While one of his attorneys, Robert S. Lane, had passed away, McGeachy still wanted his trial performance to be the focus.

“The judge scheduled the evidentiary hearing for January 13, 2020. Although defendant had told the court that he was now limiting his case to Lane’s actions during the trial, the judge did not conduct a pre-hearing conference with the parties to determine which of the nine separate issues defendant raised concerning his trial attorneys would be raised during the proceeding,” Appellate Court Judges Michael J. Haas and Stephane Anne Mitterhoff explained.

“Instead, at the start of the January 13, 2020 hearing, the prosecutor again stated she intended to call Gualano as a witness because he ‘undertook many of the investigations that [defendant] allege[d] that . . . Lane did not do.'”

The opinion continues that the prosecutor insisted with calling Gualano and Frank J. Pugliese as witnesses, despite McGeachy’s objections since he was not raising any claims about their legal counsel.

The judge also found that McGeachy waived his attorney client privilege when he filed his petition for PCR, and while Gualano briefly made it to the stand, but the hearing was adjourned after McGeachy said he wanted to appeal the ruling.

“Because the PCR judge did not apply the correct legal precedents or follow the appropriate procedures in resolving the issue of defendant’s attorney client privilege, we reverse and remand for additional proceedings,” the appellate court decided.

“We conclude that instead of immediately ordering a blanket waiver of defendant’s privilege as to Gualano and Pugliese, the judge should have first made a determination as to which of defendant’s PCR claims were still extant and a determination as to whether the proposed testimony of either attorney was relevant to those claims.”

They also indicated that the judge erred by not asking the defendant which of the nine trial count issues he planned to raise at the hearing, nor did she ask him to make a waiver about the claims concerning Lane.

” … Because the PCR judge did not require the State to make a proffer demonstrating the relevancy of either Gualano’s or Pugliese’s proposed testimony to Lane’s actions or inactions, the judge’s blanket waiver of defendant’s privilege as to both attorneys cannot stand.”

As a result, the PCR court’s decision has been reversed and remanded for additional proceedings.

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