New OPRA lawsuit: Chatham Township keeps police officer's claim and two settlement agreements secret
I am accustomed to public bodies claiming that their executive session minutes are confidential. It is not so typical, however, for the public body's reasons for wanting to keep its executive minutes secret to also be kept secret. Not knowing a public body's reason for keeping a document secret makes it very difficult to challenge its claim of confidentiality.
On May 13, 2014, Passaic County Superior Court Judge Ralph L. DeLuccia told the Clifton Board of Education to provide him with some additional information so that he could decide whether or not certain portions of the Board's June 19, 2013 executive session meeting minutes should or should not be disclosed to the public. So, the attorney for the school board, Donald K. Okner, wrote up a certification dated May 20, 2014 and sent it to the court without sending a copy to my lawyer. Judge DeLuccia, based on the lawyer's secret certification, decided that the executive session minutes need to be kept secret.
On August 22, 2014 at 9 a.m., Judge Thomas F. Brogan will hear my motion, filed by Clinton lawyer Walter M. Luers, seeking to unseal the May 20, 2014 certification that convinced Judge DeLuccia to keep portions of the June 19, 2013 executive session minutes confidential.
On Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 3 p.m., the Hon. Mary C. Jacobson, A.J.S.C. will hear argument in my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) case against the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. My order to show cause, civil complaint, exhibits and brief, filed by Walter M. Luers, Esq. of Clinton, are are on-line here.
My lawsuit challenges the MVC's denial of my request for "all OPRA requests submitted to the MVC between 05/05/14 and 05/12/14." The MVC oddly denied my request on the basis that disclosure would give "an advantage to competitors" and because "there is an interest of third parties in protecting the confidentiality of their requests for access to public documents"
On June 18, 2014, the Borough of Penns Grove and the Township of Carneys Point (Salem County) agreed to pay $2,000,000 to the four minor daughters of a man who died while in police custody.
In her suit, Judith Mincey, the mother of MoShowon Leach, claimed that Penns Grove Police Officers Raymond Rinnier and Joseph Schultz choked Leach to death during his arrest on March 21, 2010. According to the complaint, Leach was disoriented and "fighting the air" when police were called to the parking lot in which he was located. Leach allegedly ignored the officers' requests for him to stop and while he was entering the residence of a relative, Officers Rinnier and Schultz allegedly "descended upon him, maced him and took him to ground." There, Schultz allegedly told Rinnier to "choke him out." Leach was pronounced dead a short time later. Schultz allegedly said at the scene that “Ray [Rinnier] had to put [Leach] to sleep.”
Libertarian congressional candidate Dorit Goikhman’s campaign team discovered unlawful practices in vendor admission to Marlboro Day. When the Marlboro Day staff was contacted about setting up a stand at the event, the township representative denied access on the grounds that political candidates could not attend the event, unless “you’re with the mayor.”
Several days prior, a representative from Goikhman’s campaign was told that political parties could attend Marlboro Day, but that individual candidates were barred. Such regulations violate the First Amendment of the Constitution, as all political entities should be allowed equal representation in public forums. Independent candidates, who are unaffiliated with a specific party, are automatically denied access by this requirement.
On Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 9 a.m., the Hon. Travis L . Francis, A.J.S.C. will hear argument in my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) case against the City of Perth Amboy (Middlesex County). My civil complaint, exhibits and brief, filed by Walter M. Luers, Esq. of Clinton, are are on-line here.
I am seeking records regarding a lawsuit that a Perth Amboy teacher filed against the school district for mishandling her report that she was sexually assaulted in her classroom by another teacher. That lawsuit, which settled for $199,000, is discussed on my blog here.
For Immediate Release
Contact: NJLP State Chair Patrick McKnight 609-915-7200
July 31, 2014
Old Established Political Parties Have Lost
Their Preferential Ballot Position
For far too long the old established political parties have enjoyed preferential ballot placement. The two left-most columns have been reserved for the Democrats and Republicans. This year the Democrats and Republicans will be losing this discriminatory electoral advantage as a result of the failure of the old parties to maintain support with the public.
New Jersey law requires that to have a party column, a political party must “poll at any primary election for a general election of at least ten per centum (10%) of the votes cast in the State for members of the General Assembly at the next preceding general election.”
Michael Friedman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist specializing in how social relationships influence mental and physical health
Originally published at psychologytoday.com. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Substance dependence is the only mental health condition whose main feature, the possession of drugs, is considered a crime. The stated goal of the "War on Drugs" has been to stop the devastating public health consequences of addiction in part through criminalizing possession of drugs, even for nonviolent offenders. While well-intended, this war may have worsened the problem by dooming millions of people, predominantly minority and low-income individuals, to a cycle of incarceration, loss of rights, and poverty. But, there are hopeful signs that we are becoming more clear-eyed as a nation.
The New Jersey Libertarian Party urges the passage of A2270 - the "Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill" bill. The NJ Libertarian Party platform calls for "the repeal of all laws interfering with the right to commit suicide as infringement of the ultimate right of an individual to his or her own life."
New Jersey Libertarian Party
PO Box 56
Tennent, NJ 07763
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll
146 Speedwell Avenue
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
Dear Assemblyman Carroll:
We are writing to you today to convey our strong support for the “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill” Act (A2270). This legislation affirms the right of a qualified, terminally ill adult patient to obtain a prescription from his or her physician for medication that the patient may choose to self-administer for a humane and dignified death.
In response to recent media reports about the increase in Latin American children seeking entry into the United States, Libertarian Party Chair Nicholas Sarwark released this statement:
Should the U.S. government forbid foreign children from entering the United States? The Libertarian Party says no.
It would be unjust and inhumane for the U.S. government to prohibit these children from entering the United States.
A great irony is that U.S. government policies have caused the conditions that some of these Central American children are fleeing. The War on Drugs has created a huge black market in Latin America, causing increases in gang activity and violent crime. Some of the affected children naturally try to flee this violence. It is wrong to jeer at them, call them "illegals," and tell them to get out.
If ever there was a time and an opportunity for New Jersey Libertarian candidates to make inroads, 2014 would be that time. In every poll taken on numerous issues, Americans are coming to embrace libertarian positions. Younger voters nationwide believe that neither the Democratic nor the Republican Parties represents the American people. Seventy-two percent of voters say they would be better off if most incumbents were defeated in November. Eighty-one percent do not trust the federal government most or nearly all the time. Polling also shows that seventy-nine percent want to cut federal spending, fifty-two percent say that their tax bills are too high, and fifty-eight percent favor legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana and fifty-two percent of Americans also revealed that they oppose foreign interventions in other countries and that the U.S. should stay out of other nations quarrels.
An open letter to the Dover police officer who called a young woman a "ghetto piece of shit":
To whom it may concern:
This weekend I attended Firefly music festival, and for the most part, I had a lovely time. Between waste management, EMS and Dover PD, I made sure to thank about a dozen men and women in uniform for working those days. Festivals are a nightmare for health and safety workers. You must have been exhausted. There must have been thousands of kids pushing the limits; kids who don't understand that babysitting at Firefly is not what you signed up for. You must have been really pissed off.
That doesn't make this okay. Nothing really would.
Around 1:30 AM on Sunday, you and a few other officers were breaking up an altercation between two young black females outside of "The Hub." The women had been separated and cuffed, and yes, they were saying nasty things to each other.
Update: I received a voicemail on June 23, 2014 from a Wildwood Crest official telling me that he doesn't "have a Brady letter [and] never had one." The Prosecutor's May 5, 2014 denial of my OPRA request does not say that separate Brady letters exist for each of the three officials referenced in my OPRA request and named in my civil complaint. The denial suggests that at least one Brady letter exists concerning at least one of these three officials. Thus, it is entirely possible that the caller is being truthful in stating that a Brady letter pertaining to him never issued.
On June 13, 2014, attorney Richard Gutman of Montclair filed a lawsuit on my behalf seeking "Brady letters" from the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office. My Complaint and Certification in John Paff v. Cape May County Prosecutor's Office, Docket No. CPM-L-265-14 are on-line here.
"Brady letters" are named after the United States Supreme Court's 1963 decision in the case of Brady v. Maryland. That decision, among other things, requires law enforcement officials to notify criminal defendants and their lawyers whenever they receive information that a police officer involved in the defendants' cases has been untruthful.
An interesting study recently revealed that police in New Jersey are more likely to file lawsuits against a police department than your average citizen is.
When he ran for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama was treated like a rock star by the mainstream press. Here was a candidate that was new. Here was someone who was articulate, good looking, with a nice family and a beautiful and adoring wife. Barack Obama campaigned as the candidate of “hope and change.” He campaigned as a candidate that would “fundamentally transform the U.S.” He also campaigned as a “healer” and a man that would “transform politics.” After more than five years in office, it has become apparent that not only did the mainstream press sell the public a bill of goods, not only was the image that they presented of Barack Obama an illusion, but that his presidency has been an utter and abysmal failure.
New Jersey Libertarian Party State Vice Chair to to Debate Hudson County Republican Club Young Professionals
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Charles Barr, 732-470-9994
June 15, 2014
Hoboken, NJ – On Thursday June 19th, the Hudson County Republican Club Young Professionals will be hosting “The Great Debate: Libertarian versus Neo-Conservative.”
The debate will explore two influential groups within the American political discourse and their perspectives on a range of issues facing the nation.
The debate participants are Dorit Goikhman, the NJ Libertarian Party State Vice Chair and Libertarian candidate for NJ CD 6 and Joshua Sotomayor-Einstein, SaveJersey.com contributor and conservative essayist. Moderating the debate is Daniel Bono, active member of the Hudson County Republican Club and Hudson County Committeeman.
On June 10, 2014, Montclair Attorney Richard M. Gutman filed a lawsuit on my behalf challenging the Ocean County Prosecutor's denial of my Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for a video that allegedly depicts a police officer intentionally siccing his police dog on a 57-year-old woman. The lawsuit and brief, captioned Paff v. Ocean County Prosecutor, Docket No. OCN-L-1645-14, is on-line here.
I requested the video after reading about Tuckerton Police Corporal Justin Cherry being charged with second-degree official misconduct and third-degree aggravated assault after he "allegedly allowed a K-9 to attack and bite a woman following a traffic stop earlier this year." The dog attack allegedly occurred on January 29, 2014 and was filmed by a security video camera on the outside of the Barnegat municipal building. An April 21, 2014 Star Ledger article on the alleged attack is on-line here.
On January 13, 2014, the Township of Ewing (Mercer County) agreed to pay $155,000 to a Trenton woman who sued members of the Ewing Police Department for allegedly beating her.
In her suit, Portia Freeman said that on March 5, 2012 Ewing Township Health Inspector Carol Martin, Animal Control Officer Rick Moore came to her home with police to serve a warrant. According to the complaint, the officials were there to investigate a complaint that Plaintiff's sister, who the officials believed was a mentally handicapped juvenile, was being left alone in the home without a working heater.
On January 28, 2014, the City of Atlantic City (Atlantic County) agreed to pay $50,000 to a local man who sued members of the Atlantic City Police Department for allegedly stopping and detaining him without probable cause.
In his suit, Jonathan Preston said that on June 16, 2011, he was driving a car in which three other African American men were passengers when he was pulled over by Atlantic City Police Officer Michele Zanes, who is Caucasian. He claims Zanes told all four men to drop what [they] were doing and put [their] hands up" when she approached the car and accused Preston of "getting smart with her" and threatened to take him to jail.
Zanes then allegedly asked Preston for his social security number. Instead of speaking it in front of the others, Preston opted to write it down on a piece of paper and give it to Zanes. According to Preston's lawsuit, "at this point, approximately 12 back-up officers in cars and on motorcycles had arrived at the scene of the stop."