CJ Griffin Quoted in New Jersey Monitor Regarding Victory in Newborn Blood Spot Lawsuit
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, “Judge Orders State to Release Information about Police use of Baby Blood Spots.” The article discusses a judge’s recent ruling in a lawsuit filed by Griffin on behalf of the New Jersey office of the Public Defender and newspaper New Jersey Monitor, seeking to learn more about how the Department of Health responds to subpoenas for newborn blood spots.
The court ordered the Department of Health to disclose redacted subpoenas and celebrated the ruling as a “common-sense application of the court rule.”
But she agreed the redacted records raise many more questions state officials should answer about how it allows blood spots to be used, beyond disease screening. In a law enforcement context, using blood spots to link suspects to crimes “sidesteps the Constitution,” Griffin said, although she conceded police could have other “less offensive” reasons for using them, such as identifying a missing child or unidentified remains.
“We need more transparency. The fact that there’s five isn’t going to tell us anything about the investigations,” Griffin said. “This is a lawsuit to provide the public with some information about the scope of this problem. It is not a lawsuit that sought any sort of relief, in terms of stopping them from doing this. Our hope would be that this issues a red flag for the Department of Health. Perhaps they’ll respond to subpoenas differently in the future, but I really think that we need legislation to put safeguards around this program.”