Trenton, NJ

Senators: Impeach N.J. justice over profiling

April 12, 2001
A state Supreme Court justice should be impeached for lying to a Senate committee, routinely misleading lawmakers and withholding information about racial profiling by state police, senators said Wednesday. 
     In a letter to Assembly Speaker Jack Collins, the state Senate Judiciary Committee asked the lower house to present the Senate with articles of impeachment against Justice Peter G. Verniero. 
     Echoing language used by federal civil rights investigators, the letter says Verniero "engaged in a pattern and practice of withholding and concealing information." 
     The justice has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and has said he will not resign. His attorney, Robert Mintz, said Verniero would respond to the charges by Monday. Mintz said the allegations are unfounded and that the committee's recent hearings on racial profiling were held only to attack Verniero. 

N.J. drivers tell of racial profiling 

April 09, 2001
Felix Morka said he never dreamed he would leave a military dictatorship in his native Nigeria only to be assaulted by troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike. 
    Morka told state lawmakers Monday that he came to the United States hoping to learn how to bring civil rights to his country. Instead, he said he and Lalia Maher, also a minority, were stopped for speeding in 1996 and assaulted by two state troopers. 
     "In all my work in that country, I've never been as much as beaten," said Morka, who was allegedly grabbed by the neck by an officer who
smashed his head against the steering wheel. 
    "They were laughing hysterically after they had done this to us," Maher added. 
     The two were among several minority motorists who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in its racial profiling investigation. It was the first testimony from victims of the practice that has roiled the state for the past two years. 

Court reinstates charges against troopers in shooting

January 05, 2001
An appeals court revived the most explosive case in New Jersey's racial profiling controversy Friday, reinstating criminal charges against two state troopers accused of shooting three minority men on the New Jersey Turnpike two years ago. 
     The ruling overturned a ruling by Superior Court Judge Andrew Smithson, who threw out charges against troopers John Hogan and James Kenna because of errors by prosecutors. 
     The judge also faulted former Attorney General Peter Verniero, saying he bowed to political pressure in the controversy over whether troopers targeted minorities for traffic stops and made public news of another indictment while the grand jury hearing the shooting case was still in session. 

N.J. groups invest hope in FleetBoston

December 14, 2000
Community activist PhyllisSalowe-Kaye eyed FleetBoston Financial's pending takeover of New Jersey's own Summit Bancorp with suspicion when it wasannounced in the fall.
     But on Wednesday, she lavished kudos on the $179 billion bank thatoften is derided on its New England home turf as "Fee Bank."
     The reason for Salowe-Kaye's change of heart was that subsidiaryFleet National Bank has signed a four-year, $1.2 billion pledge to invest in affordable housing, small business, and low- and moderate-incomecommunities in New Jersey. Fleet also pledges to offer lower-priced checking accounts than it now offers in New Jersey, refrain frompredatory lending, and keep branches open in inner cities.
     Details of the agreement made with Salowe-Kaye's Hackensack-basedgroup, New Jersey Citizen Action, and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey were madepublic Wednesday at a State House news conference. 

Report: more minorities searched in N.J.

November 28, 2000
For more than a decade as New Jersey's state troopers vigorously followed orders to fight the war on drugs, innocent minority motorists became their unintended victims.
      Top law enforcement officials knew minorities were targeted but stopped the practice of racial profiling only after years of complaints, according to thousands of documents released Monday by the state.
      Attorney General John J. Farmer Jr. released a library of documents that detail the history of aggressive highway drug interdiction tactics that led to racial targeting.
      Some 100,000 pages of trooper logs and reports, traffic tickets, training guidelines and citizen complaints were made public, collected in 185 ring binders at the Hughes Justice complex, where state police records are housed. Sets of compact discs were available to those willing to pay $1,000.

Racial disclosure may taint cases

November 28, 2000
After admitting the state'swar on drugs unfairly victimized minority drivers, New Jersey's attorney general may drop drugcharges against hundreds of motorists who claim they were pulled over because of their race. 
     The state also could be forced to settle dozens of lawsuits filed byblack and Hispanic state troopers who allege they were forced to practice racialprofiling.
     Attorney General John J. Farmer Jr. said his office would revieweach pending criminal case in which bias allegedly tainted drug seizures. Criminal charges could be dropped, hesaid. 

NJ Gov. asked for profiling records

November 21, 2000
Gov. Christie Whitman'soffice is the latest target of a legislative committee's expanding investigating into the State Police andallegations of racial profiling. 
     A former federal prosecutor hired by the state Senate JudiciaryCommittee has asked for any records Whitman's office kept that deal with racial profiling, the committee's Republican chairman said Monday.
     Earlier this month the committee broadened its inquiry to include thestate's prosecution of two troopers after a judge dismissed criminal charges against the pair for a shooting on the New Jersey Turnpike.
     The April 1998 traffic stop that ended in gunfire provoked the state'sracial profiling controversy. 

NJ judge dismisses charges against Troopers

November 01, 2000
In a ruling accusingprosecutors of misconduct and a former state attorney general of bowing topolitical pressure, a judge dismissed charges against two troopers involved in a1998 shooting that ignited a public outcry over racial profiling. 
      Superior Court Judge Andrew Smithson saidoverzealous prosecutors turned grand jury proceedings into a"mini-trial" and repeatedly violated the troopers' constitutionalrights.
     "Members of society engaged in law enforcementdeserve no less protection from the criminal justice system than that which isafforded to other citizens," the judge said.
     Troopers John Hogan and James Kenna faced attemptedmurder and assault charges following the April 23, 1998, shooting that woundedthree minority passengers in a van stopped for speeding on the New JerseyTurnpike. Hogan and Kenna, who are white, said they fired at the van thinkingthe driver was trying to run them over.
     In his stinging 35-page decision, Smithson said he wasdisturbed by the state's decision to make public another indictment on officialmisconduct charges while the grand jury hearing the shooting case was still insession. 

N.J. Governor Reflects on Photo

July 15, 2000
Gov. Christine Whitman says it was "dumb" for her to join a police raid and frisk a black man, but she's still not apologizing.
      A 1996 photograph shows the Republican governor frisking a man on a Camden street corner during a state police drug raid. The photograph, taken by an officer, was subpoenaed in May by black and Hispanic troopers who claim their superiors discriminated against them.
      Some criticize Whitman for conducting what they said was an illegal search. Blacks say the picture demonstrates racial profiling and harassment, and is an example of official racism.
      "Did I step over a line from being an observer to a participant that I shouldn't have and didn't need to in that instance? Yes," Whitman said in an interview with The Associated Press. "But unfortunately that is my nature. When they said, 'do you want to do it,' I said sure, without thinking, and I should have thought."

Photo of N.J. governor frisking black man draws fire

July 11, 2000
A 1996 photograph of Gov. Christie Whitman frisking a black man during a drug sweep has sparked outrage from critics who say it is another example of racial profiling.
      Whitman has maintained her pat-down of the unidentified man while accompanying State Police on a tour of Camden, the state's poorest city, was an attempt to understand the rigors of police work. Troopers had searched the man at least once during the sweep before offering him to the governor.
      A photograph obtained by The Associated Press shows Whitman, who appears to be smiling, standing behind a black man with his arms spread and his palms pressed up against a wall.
      The photograph, taken by an officer, was subpoenaed in May by several black and Hispanic troopers who claim their superiors subjected them to discrimination.

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