CJ Griffin Quoted in The Trentonian on “Big Win” for Journalists Seeking Greater Access to Police Internal Affairs Reports
CJ Griffin, Director of the Justice Gary S. Stein Public Interest Center at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, was quoted in The Trentonian article, “Judge orders partial release of IA files for indicted Ewing cops.” The article discusses a state court ruling in a lawsuit brought by The Trentonian to gain access to the internal affairs (IA) records of three Ewing Township Police Officers who were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for a use-of-force incident that occurred in January 2018. Griffin represents The Trentonian in the lawsuit, in which The Trentonian fought for access to the IA records to explain why the internal affairs unit did not sustain any major disciplinary charges against the officers, despite body-camera footage showing that the officers kicked snow in the face of a teenager and pressed his face into the snow with their boots while he lay on the ground restrained—conduct that federal law enforcement alleges is criminal and violated the teen’s civil rights. Mercer County Assignment Judge Robert T. Lougy ruled that Ewing Township must hand over the IA reports relating to the incident, pursuant to a recent landmark New Jersey Supreme Court ruling, Rivera v. Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
In Rivera, a case argued and won by Griffin, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that IA reports could be released under a common law right of access and set forth factors to consider when deciding to release the reports.
Griffin said the township could still appeal Lougy’s decision, delaying the public from learning more about why officers received only a slap on the wrist for the Jan. 5 beatdown
“Transparency is important so the public can learn why the internal affairs process cleared these officers of any serious misconduct when what we witness with our own eyes on the video is quite alarming,” she said.
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