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CJ Griffin Quoted in INSIDER on Use of Newborn Blood Sample to Purse Criminal Case


CJ Griffin, Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was quoted in the INSIDER article, “Police used  NJ baby’s mandatory blood sample to purse a criminal case. Public defenders and a newspaper are now teaming up to sue over privacy concerns.” The article discusses the lawsuit filed by Griffin on behalf of the New Jersey Public Defender’s Office and the New Jersey Monitor.   The lawsuit alleges that police obtained a blood sample from New Jersey’s newborn screening program to perform a DNA analysis to link the father of the baby (who is now elementary school age) to a crime.  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:

The plaintiff's lawyer, CJ Griffin, said parents aren't necessarily informed of the blood draw and that even if they are aware, they can't opt out unless they prove a religious exemption.  

Griffin told Insider her clients are not opposed to the health screening but are fighting for more transparency around the process.

"I think it's shocking that they're retaining this blood for so long," Griffin said. "It's also predictable."

DNA technology has improved vastly since the New Jersey retention schedule was created more than 40 years ago, and so have concerns over how genetic material is used by the government.

Authors of law review articles going back at least 10 years predict the government's misuse of these blood samples, Griffin said.

Griffin told Insider that the plaintiffs weren't seeking information in their records request that would identify cases the agency is investigating or other compromising information. They just want to know how many times the lab has responded to subpoenas from law enforcement, she said.

"Just, 'Hey, tell us how often this is happening,' and the state took this stand of extreme secrecy," she said. "The lack of any transparency whatsoever around this is highly problematic." 


To view the article INSIDER click here

To view the Business Insider India Article, click here

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