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CJ Griffin Interviewed on KYW News Radio on Privacy Concerns Arising From the Use of Blood Samples From Newborn Health Screenings


CJ Griffin, Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was interviewed by Mike Dougherty on KYW News Radio regarding privacy concerns arising out of law enforcement’s use of blood samples taken as part of the state’s newborn health screening. The interview, and accompanying article, addressed the lawsuit filed by Griffin on behalf of the New Jersey Public Defender’s Office and the New Jersey Monitor.  The lawsuit was filed after the state declined to answer the request by the Office of the Public Defender and the New Jersey Monitor pursuant to the Open Public Records Act for information on how many times police had asked for newborn screening samples and which law enforcement agencies made the requests. The lawsuit is currently pending and will be decided in October.

“There are serious genetic privacy concerns there,” attorney CJ Griffin said.

“What’s happening, and what parents probably aren’t aware of, is that [New Jersey] is storing those blood samples for 23 years, and so we find that alarming.”

“They were able to allegedly identify the perpetrator as belonging to within a certain family,” Griffin said.

But a warrant is needed in most cases to get DNA from a potential suspect, and a warrant must be approved by a judge with legitimate evidence to demonstrate probable cause. Griffin says that’s not what happened with the blood sample in this case. The state police reportedly just issued a subpoena for the lab to produce the sample, and the lab complied.

“[New Jersey State Police] are skipping steps here and circumventing what the constitution requires,” said Griffin, adding it was only after getting this blood sample that the state filed for a warrant to obtain DNA directly from the suspect.

“We think some basic transparency is necessary here,” Griffin said. “How often is this happening? How many other types of uses are occurring here? Once we know, we can have a public debate, a public policy debate, about what safeguards should be in place — what uses are permissible and which are not.”

To listen to the interview and view the article KYW News Radio article, click here.

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