On Tuesday Mathew Reardon was arrested for making a statement on Facebook. He stated "Don't wanna get clipped while sitting in your squad car?? Don't be a (expletives deleted) pig who's looking to get killed...Everyone who goes out of their way to (expletive deleted) with other people should get executed in cold blood."
The statement, while offensive, was not a direct threat. His statement was made just days before the funeral of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos who where killed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley while they sat in their patrol car.
I understand the increased level of alertness since the shooting, however this is a disturbing use of police force. Stupid statements made on Facebook by citizens and police alike do not warrant police action.
Back in March, I filed a lawsuit against Hainesport Township (Burlington County) seeking a list of all public officials, employees and retirees who have been enrolled in the Township's health insurance plan during 2011 to 2014. For background on that suit, which I won, please see my blog here.
Haineport originally said that it would appeal the lower court's decision that forced it to make the information public. Recently, however, Hainesport withdrew its appeal plans. On December 19, 2014, Township Clerk Leo F. Selb, Jr. released an Excel spreadsheet which I've placed on-line here. (Note that there are tabs at the bottom of the file that show the enrollees during each year.)
The Mullica Township Committee was considering an ordinance banning dressing in clothes meant for the opposite sex, begging, lewd books, houses of ill repute, or any behavior that may have a negative impact on the quality of life of the residents.
The proposed ordinance was not only extremely vague, but would be unconstitutional. John Paff, chair of the NJLP Preempted Ordinance Repeal Project, sent a letter to the township committee pointing out that such an ordinance would be invalid. As a result of this letter and many residents questioning the need for such an ordinance, the Township Committee has tabled the ordinance.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — If you had a beer with the weekend’s football games or a glass of wine after some holiday shopping, then congratulations. You celebrated the 81st anniversary of the end of Prohibition.
But even though it has been eight decades since Congress stopped trying to sober us up, big government at almost every level is still trying various prohibitions.
Joe Siano is an NJLP Board Member.
“A man’s home is his castle”. In today’s politically correct and gender inclusive society we might say “A person’s home is his/her castle”. Whatever.
The formal name for this axiom is the Castle Doctrine. It derives from English Common Law and is the basis for both the Third and Fourth Amendments in the Bill of Rights. These protect Americans in their places of residence. The British honored and respected the inviolability private living spaces.
After publishing the $145,000 racial discrimination settlement between Plainfield and a police aide, I decided, just for fun, (I know. I have a pretty warped sense of what is "fun") to search the court indexes and submit OPRA requests for other interesting court cases involving Plainfield.
Today, I received the following court cases from Plainfield City Clerk Abubakar Jalloh:
For Immediate Release
November 24, 2014
NJ Libertarian Party Urges Vineland
Residents Not to Seize Judge’s Home
A Faulkner Act Petition has been created that will use eminent domain to seize the Vineland home of Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez for the purposes of erecting a hotel with a restaurant with the name of “Just Desserts.”
Judge Julio Mendez recently decided that eminent domain can be used by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) to seize the property of Charles Birnbaum despite no public use threshold or specific plans for the property.
Officer Jason Miller has been arrested for exposing himself several times to drivers he had pulled over in Newton, NJ. Five separate incidences have been investigated where Officer Miller has either exposed himself or made inappropriate statements to male drivers.
Officer Miller has been released on $35,000 bail and has been placed on unpaid leave.
Two years ago, New Jersey's Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) approved something called the South Inlet Mixed Use Development Project, which was intended to "complement the new Revel Casino and assist with the demands created by the resort." Two months ago, the bankrupt Revel Casino closed.
The CRDA nevertheless is still trying to condemn a three-story brick house at 311 Oriental Avenue in Atlantic City as part of that Revel-inspired project, the details of which remain vague. In fact, the CRDA can't even say what it plans to do with the lot on which the house sits.
That's OK, according to Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez, who on Monday ruled that the CRDA may condemn first and answer questions later. Jacob Sullum says the ruling shows that no one's property is safe when eminent domain becomes unmoored from the "public use" that is supposed to justify it.
Retired Wildwood Crest police officers to testify on why letters related to their misconduct should remain secret
In a November 18, 2014 opinion, Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson ordered retired Wildwood Crest Lieutenant Michael Hawthorne and Captain David Mayer to appear before him on December 12, 2014, 10:30 a.m. to explain why letters why letters discussing their "serious deceitful and/or untruthful" conduct should continue to be withheld from the public. Johnson's decision is on-line here and background information on this lawsuit is on-line here.
Letter to Prosecutor: School boards should not hire professional media consultants to "educate" voters on bond referenda
Geoffrey D. Soriano, Esq.
Somerset County Prosecutor
40 North Bridge St
P.O. BOX 3000
Somerville, New Jersey
Dear Prosecutor Soriano:
More than twenty years ago, I worked with Hillsborough resident Randy Enterline and the local chapter of the New Jersey Libertarian Party to challenge the Hillsborough Township school district's use of taxpayer money to produce a newsletter that urged voters to approve a referendum authorizing $54 million for a new high school. The effort resulted in a September 11, 1995 decision by Administrative Law Judge Solomon A. Metzger holding that the newsletter in question was "very much an advocacy piece." Accordingly, Judge Metzger held that the newsletter, even though it did not explicitly urge voters to vote "yes," was an impermissible expenditure of taxpayers' money because it attempted to sway voters' opinions.
On January 13, 2014, Clinton attorney Walter M. Luers filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lawsuit on my behalf challenging the suppressions and redactions the Governor's Office applied to travel documents related to the Governor's April 2013 trip to Dallas, Texas for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Background on that suit is on-line here.
On September 11, 2014, the Town of Belvidere (Warren County) agreed to pay $45,000 to a local woman who sued members of the Belvidere Police Department for allegedly assaulting and falsely arresting her.
In her suit, Lisa Patton said that on February 10, 2011, her daughter called police after the mother and daughter had an argument over proper dosage of the daughter's prescription medicine. According to the complaint, Patton's daughter had substance abuse issues and wanted to ingest more of the medicine than prescribed and Patton wished to limit her daughter's medication intake to the prescribed dose. Belvidere police officers Matthew Scott and Frank Tootle, III went to the family home and both Patton and her son told them that the daughter had already had her prescribed dose that day.
On July 30, 2014, the City of Long Branch (Monmouth County) agreed to pay $175,000 to an Oceanport man who sued members of the Long Branch Police Department for allegedly applying excessive force upon him.
In his suit, Ralph Mazza said that on May 25, 2012, he was present at his sister's home when she had called police because of unwanted guests at her residence. He claimed that he "was assaulted without justification and excessive force" by Officers Alfred K. Cistaro and Joseph Kennedy "as be spoke with his sister about the summons issued to her by [police]."
The City of Trenton, like many cities across New Jersey and the nation, set an arbitrary limit on the number of taxicabs the city will license. In Trenton, City Code § 272-4(B), sets the maximum number of cabs at 82. Cities don't limit the number of bakeries or shoe stores in a town, so why taxicabs? Does this type of restriction benefit the public good or is its aim to protect existing cab owners from competition?
Similar taxicab limits have been struck down in other states for violating constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal protection under the law. In a 2013 case, Wisconsin Circuit Judge Jane Carroll found that Milwaukee's limit on taxicab licenses failed an equal protection analysis because it wasn't rationally related to the public health, safety, morals or general welfare. Judge Carroll's ruling, which is on-line here, states that the arbitrary limit on taxicabs indicates "the desire of the City to create a valuable asset for the current permit holders so that they could sell them and, as the one taxi driver indicated, retire comfortably to Florida, that's simply not a legitimate government purpose."
East Newark pays $101,000 plus attorney fees to settle former police dispatcher's lawsuit claiming forced oral sex
On July 25, 2014, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mary K. Costello confirmed an agreement under which the Borough of East Newark (Hudson County) agreed to pay a Borough former police dispatcher and volunteer firefighter $101,000 in damages, plus attorney fees to be established by the court, to settle her lawsuit which claimed that she was repeated assaulted sexually by a Borough police sergeant. In an October 8, 2014 application to the court, the woman's attorney applied for attorney fees of $786,247.50, costs of $36,563.90 and a "contingency enhancement" of $393,123.75 for a total award of $1,215,935.15. Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney is scheduled to hear the attorney's application on Friday, November 7, 2014, 9 a.m. in Courtroom 807, 595 Newark Avenue, Jersey City.
Today, I had a records custodian claim that she was not obligated to search beyond the walls of her office for records responsive to my Open Public Records Act request.
Since it is fairly common for custodians to take this position, I have publicly posted my response to her. I hope that this might be helpful for other requestors who encounter similar situations.
Dear Records Custodian:
As you know, I submitted an Open Public Records Act request for a settlement agreement that resolved a civil lawsuit against the municipality. You had initially responded that "no settlement [is] available for this case."