CJ Griffin Quoted in New Jersey Monitor Regarding Supreme Court Victory that Expands a Criminal Defendant’s Access to Police Internal Affairs Records
CJ Griffin, Partner and Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was quoted in a New Jersey Monitor article, “Justices set new, laxer rules for obtaining police discipline records in court.” The article pertains to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s recent decision in State v. Andre Higgs, a case in which Griffin submitted an amicus brief and argued before the Court on behalf of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey. Under the new framework put in place by the Court, a defendant can file a motion seeking specific types of information in an officer’s internal affairs file and argue that information is relevant to their case. The old framework placed defendants at an unfair disadvantage, so the Higgs decision represents a significant expansion of a defendant’s right to discovery about police misconduct.
CJ Griffin, a transparency advocate and attorney who filed a brief in the case as a representative of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, said the old way of seeking internal affairs “used the wrong standard.”
“It places a burden upon the defendants to identify contents of a file that’s completely secret and that they don’t even know about in order to get the file,” said Griffin, who has represented the New Jersey Monitor in several legal matters.
Open government advocates are seeking further improvements. They hope another active Supreme Court case, Gannett v. Township of Neptune, will require that governments pay attorney’s fees for lawsuits that successfully force the disclosure of public records under the common law right of access.
“We see that as a big one because, without a fee-shifting mechanism, public agencies, police departments can just deny access to internal affairs reports and know that no one could afford to sue for them,” Griffin said.
To view the article, click here.