Oldest still active trial attorney given murder case restrictions after outburst.
New Jersey judge Christopher Kazlau has refused to remove 97-year-old trial attorney Frank Lucianna from a murder case following a courtroom outburst. However, Kazlau did restrict the attorney’s involvement in the case. Lucianna, New Jersey’s oldest active attorney, will be able to give opening statements and question two witnesses. He will not be allowed to do anything else during the trial.
According to court documents, Lucianna had “berated the lawyer for a co-defendant in the case during jury selection, chastising him for not knowing what he was doing” and the judge had to dismiss six jurors as a result of his actions. Lucianna apologized for his comments, made to attorney Michael Debli, but still argued that prosecutors were seeking to have him dismissed “because if I represent this lady she’s going to be found not guilty. That’s what this is about.”
Lucianna is Adrienne Smith’s trial attorney. Smith has been accused of killing her husband in December 2016, and her brother, Orville Cousins, is accused of helping her to dismember and dispose of the man’s corpse. According to local law enforcement agents, “body parts were mixed with concrete and stuffed in containers.”
Randolph Smith, 44, was last seen by his wife on Christmas Day 2016 at his Bergenfield home. Mrs. Smith did not, however, report her husband missing to Bergenfield police until January 2. She said she saw him leave with an unidentified individual. Officers later found his remains, and according to investigators, learned that materials used in the body’s dismemberment were purchased by the siblings the day after Christmas. Some were even found in the Smith’s home.
“I just want to tell the truth and get this over with,” Cousins, 42, said in a Superior Court hearing last year. Police reportedly took him into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, awaiting a one-way flight to Jamaica, where he’s originally from.
“It’s inescapable the issue that hurts Orville is they caught him boarding a plane,” his attorney, Jonathan Marshall, said in court. “It does have a certain odor about it.” But he went on to argue that his client has had no prior record or history of violence and has worked at a hospital for fourteen years.
In court, an attorney with the public defender’s office said Cousins rejected a plea deal because he felt wronged by attorneys in the past. “I understand why he does not want to be represented by counsel,” said Louis Acevedo.
Lucianna is the dean of the criminal bar in Bergen County and two of his daughters are also attorneys. His daughter Nancy has her own law practice and Lucianna’s daughter Diane practices with him at Lucianna & Lucianna. “He’s the Energizer bunny,” said Diane, “He never stops.”
The seasoned attorney is “known for waving his arms and being over-the-top” while defending his clients, but his daughter contends this is very purposeful, stating, “He always said to me, ‘You got to keep the judge’s attention even if you go a little crazy because sometimes they’re sleeping up there.”