Courts

Police do not have an automatic right to qualified immunity, court rules

BY: - March 30, 2022

The New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously agreed Wednesday to allow a wrongful arrest and imprisonment lawsuit against two Newark police officers to proceed, rejecting the city’s repeated efforts to shield the officers from liability. Reformers welcomed the ruling as a small step toward advancing their battle to end qualified immunity, a legal defense municipalities use […]

Second hitman pleads guilty in N.J. political murder-for-hire plot

BY: - March 24, 2022

The second hitman charged in the 2014 murder-for-hire scheme that involves a New Jersey political operative pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday. George John Bratsenis, 73, appeared by video from a federal prison in Brooklyn to answer charges that he and a second hitman stabbed Michael Galdieri to death in his Jersey City apartment at the […]

Court ruling on police records a win for transparency, advocates say

BY: - March 14, 2022

Public officials must release police disciplinary records in New Jersey when the public’s interest in them outweighs an officer’s confidentiality concerns, the state’s top court ruled Monday. Reformers, who have been fighting to open police records for years to increase accountability for misconduct, hailed the decision as a significant win for transparency. New Jersey Supreme […]

N.J.’s top court delivers transparency win in records fight over jail guard’s retirement

BY: - March 7, 2022

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ordered Cumberland County to publicly release a settlement agreement that allowed a correctional officer to retire in good standing, despite his admission he had “inappropriate relationships” with two inmates and brought contraband into the county jail. Monday’s ruling will protect public access to all settlement agreements involving public agencies, advocates […]

Judges side with transgender man in protecting privacy of name changes

BY: - February 17, 2022

An appeals court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a transgender man who sought to seal his name change from the public record, declaring transgender people deserve privacy and protection from the harms that could arise from publicizing their name changes. Superior Court Judge Michael J. Haas, writing for a unanimous three-judge appellate panel, overturned a lower […]

N.J. Supreme Court rejects bid to halt vaccine mandate for prison guards

BY: - February 14, 2022

The state’s top court has refused to intervene and stop Gov. Phil Murphy’s vaccine mandate for state and county correctional officers, leaving unvaccinated staff two days to get a shot — or get fired. Several police unions, led by the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, had asked the state Supreme Court Friday for an […]

Judges uphold Murphy’s vaccine mandate for jail guards

BY: - February 11, 2022

A New Jersey appeals court Friday upheld Gov. Phil Murphy’s vaccine mandate for correctional officers in a strongly worded smackdown of the police unions that sought to overturn the order. Superior Court Judge Clarkson S. Fisher, writing for the unanimous three-judge panel, said the unions unreasonably placed their “unexplained unwillingness to be vaccinated” above “the interests […]

Police unions urge judges to block vaccine mandate for jail guards

BY: - February 8, 2022

A New Jersey appellate panel heard arguments Wednesday on a challenge to Gov. Phil Murphy’s recent executive order mandating vaccines for state and county correctional officers. Officers’ unions called the mandate “government overreach” that will cause unvaccinated officers irreparable harm by requiring them to get jabbed or lose their jobs, while the state insisted the requirement is […]

Court: juvenile offenses count as ‘strike’ under ‘three strikes’ law targeting repeat offenders

BY: - February 8, 2022

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday judges can count crimes repeat offenders commit as juveniles when weighing whether they deserve to be locked away for life under the state’s “three strikes” law. Two justices dissented in the split ruling, citing the top court’s decision last month finding lifetime imprisonment for youthful offenses is an […]

In cop killer’s case, top court weighs recidivism fears against redemption

BY: - January 31, 2022

At 85, Sundiata Acoli is a sick old man and an obedient prison inmate, his hearing fading as quickly as dementia takes hold, his supporters say. But Acoli is also a convicted cop killer whose words can’t be trusted and who could commit more crimes — at least in the eyes of the New Jersey […]