United States v. New Jersey

Civil No. 99-5970 (1999)

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United States v. New Jersey

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
Civil No. 99-5970 (1999)

Facts

[Editor’s Note: This excerpt summarizes the parties’ joint application for entry of a consent decree and the district court’s order.] The United States, the State of New Jersey, and the Division of State Police of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety (the state police) (defendants) moved for entry of a consent decree. At the same time, the United States filed its complaint against New Jersey and the state police, alleging that New Jersey state troopers had engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination, depriving people of constitutional rights. The complaint also alleged that discriminatory behavior was facilitated by poor management practices and supervision along with training and complaint procedures that did not stop officers from utilizing race in an improper manner to target minorities, despite the significant degree of discretion given to individual troopers. The defendants denied the allegations. The United States and the defendants sought the entry of the consent decree to avoid litigation, support proper enforcement of traffic laws, and aid police in finding drugs, arresting fugitives, and enforcing other laws. The consent decree addressed all allegations raised in the complaint. The consent decree, as proposed, included 10 provisions requiring changes in the documentation of traffic stops, supervisory reviews, and policies prohibiting reliance on race or ethnicity in stopping drivers and in post-stop conduct, except in cases in which law enforcement was searching for a particular suspect who was already identified by race or ethnicity. The consent decree also included requirements for training, public reports, the handling of misconduct allegations, and independent monitoring. The term of the consent decree was five years, but the time could be shortened after two years of significant compliance. Entry of the consent decree was requested in the public interest because of its immediate provision of remedial activity and the preservation of federal and state resources that would otherwise be invested in litigation.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Cooper, J.)

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