NJ COURTS PROVIDE ICE SHIELD

I was really happy to see last week that the New Jersey courts were taking concrete action to protect people from the harsh immigration policies of the Trump Administration.

Administrative Directive 07-19, released on May 23, states the view of the judiciary “that civil immigration enforcement activities should not take place in courthouses” and that “courthouses must be viewed by the public, all parties, victims, and witnesses as a neutral and safe forum to resolve disputes.” Continue reading NJ COURTS PROVIDE ICE SHIELD

Police Use of Force Varies by Race and Region, with Fear a Major Factor

I don’t write much about criminal justice issues, but I would like to share this article entitled “How Fear Contributes to Cops’ Use of Deadly Force.”  It was written by Columbia University professors Rajiv Sethi and Brendan “Dan” O’Flaherty and posted today on The Marshall Project website.  (Dan O’Flaherty is my husband.)

Their data-driven article starts out with the troubling fact that police in the United States  kill civilians far more often than police in other countries, more than 1,000 each year, as contrasted with, for example, the combined 10 per year killed by British and German police.

Not surprisingly, there are striking racial disparities on who is at the receiving end of this police violence. For instance, black residents of Houston are four times more likely to face deadly force than white ones. In New York and Los Angeles, they are six to seven times more likely to die in police shootings. And in Chicago, they are 18 times more likely to be killed by police.

What is surprising is the regional differences that were found, which are so substantial that whites in Houston are more likely to be killed by police than blacks in New York City.

You can read the article here.

And if you find the topic of interest, read their book, published last month, called “Shadows of Doubt,” which looks at the impact of stereotypes and fear on policing and prosecution.

Yes, this is a shameless plug for my husband’s book but the book is a timely, deeply researched and thoughtful look at an important subject.

FEDERAL REPORT SLAMS DETAINEE CONDITIONS AT ESSEX JAIL

I was not going to write about the recent revelation that undocumented immigrants are being detained in Essex County in conditions that are, quite literally, sickening. Since the release of a report on February 13 that described serious health and safety lapses at the Essex County Correctional Facility, there have already been many news stories and editorials that have discussed and condemned the conditions it uncovered. There would seem to be little left to say on the subject.  Continue reading FEDERAL REPORT SLAMS DETAINEE CONDITIONS AT ESSEX JAIL

Federal Courts Limit Hiring Protections for Older Workers

As a former employment lawyer and a Baby Boomer, I am dismayed that two recent federal appeals courts, one within the last month, have held that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not protect older workers looking for jobs from disparate impact age discrimination, only those who already have jobs.

We are talking about the use of hiring criteria that might not expressly mention age but disfavor job candidates who have too much experience or who graduated too many years ago—factors which correlate closely with age. Continue reading Federal Courts Limit Hiring Protections for Older Workers

PROTECTIONS AGAINST FORFEITURE, FORECLOSURE, AND RETIREMENT SAVINGS GAP ADVANCE IN LEGISLATURE

Legislation that made it through various committees on February 7 would make New Jersey a better and fairer place, enhancing the financial security of retirees, helping people prevent the loss of their homes through foreclosure, and protecting against abusive civil asset forfeitures.

I have written about the Secure Choice Act before, which would establish a state-run retirement savings plan for people whose employers do not offer one. The legislation is in response to studies showing that most people do not save enough on their own for retirement, even though Social Security payments are not enough for seniors to live on—the so-called “retirement savings gap.” Continue reading PROTECTIONS AGAINST FORFEITURE, FORECLOSURE, AND RETIREMENT SAVINGS GAP ADVANCE IN LEGISLATURE

In Support of Early Voting

The following editorial appeard on the nj.com website on January 16, 2019:

Starting two weeks before the last election, residents of Essex County, where I live, got to vote early by going to the Turtle Back Zoo education building in West Orange and filling out a vote-by-mail ballot. You first had to complete an application that was processed on the spot. The procedure was time-consuming and somewhat confusing but interest was high and lines were long.

They called it early voting but it wasn’t really. Early voting as done in other states allows voters to cast their ballots up to 46 days before Election Day using voting machines at multiple polling places in each county. What Essex had was a work-around that utilized the vote-by-mail process, because state law does not authorize the real thing.

True early voting might come to New Jersey through a package of reforms that Governor Murphy is proposing, as discussed in a New York Times article on January 9. Continue reading In Support of Early Voting

VOTING MACHINE PILOT DEEMED SUCCESSFUL

Readers of this blog know that I am very concerned about the fact that New Jersey is one of only five states that continues to rely almost entirely on electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper record of the votes cast. That makes it difficult, if not impossible, to detect hacking and prevents a recount.

New voting machines that would create a verifiable paper trail had a test run in November, and it appears to have gone well, for the most part, according to an article in NJ Spotlight.

A portion of a $10 million voting security grant was used for a pilot program in Union, Gloucester, and Essex Counties in which new machines that create a paper record were used on Election Day. Post-election audits utilizing those paper records were also conducted.

In “Progress Seen in Test of Paper Trail Voting Machines That Allow Audit of Results,” Colleen O’Dea writes that this pilot and the accompanying audits were deemed a success.

This was the U.S. Senate race, in which incumbent Robert Menendez fended off a challenge from Republican Bob Hugin and several third-party candidates, that was verified using a risk-limiting audit.

Election audits involve counting a portion of the paper ballots to verify the accuracy of the outcome, where the votes have been cast and/or tabulated electronically. In a risk-limiting type of audit, the percentage of ballots is not a set number but varies depending on the number of votes cast and the margin in the particular race.

Christopher Deluzio, who focuses on election security as Counsel to the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, called risk-limiting audits the gold standard and described how states are starting to adopt that approach in a July 25, 2018 article, entitled “A Smart and Effective Way to Safeguard Elections.”

New Jersey has a law requiring election audits that was never implemented because 20 of our 21 counties use voting machines that do not produce a paper trail. Pending legislation, A-3991/S-2633, would repeal the auditing law and replace it with a requirement for risk-limiting audits, to be conducted once counties switch to machines that produce the necessary paper record of the votes cast.

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