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Random Notes on NJ Government

Ocean County cops shielded from liability by “qualified immunity” after arresting and jailing an innocent man.

From today’s (03/06/2020) decision by a two-judge panel of the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division:

“Plaintiff Tora Evans was arrested for a crime he did not commit all because he happened to be in the vicinity of other criminal conduct. He remained incarcerated for six weeks before making bail; in the meantime, he lost his job and claims in this suit he was unable to resume his position as a certified nursing assistant because of the arrest. As a result of these unfortunate events and consequences, plaintiff brought this action against two law enforcement officers–defendants David Petracca and Timothy Meier–whose actions and statements led to plaintiff’s arrest. The trial judge granted summary judgment, concluding, among other things, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. We are constrained to agree and affirm.”

The court’s decision is on-line here. For a critique of the doctrine of qualified immunity, see a five-part article by UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz titled “The Case Against Qualified Immunity.

By John Paff

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project