New Jersey Appellate Court Refuses To Enforce Fourteenth Amendment: Motion For Mandatory Corrective Action Filed With State Supreme Court

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Renaissance Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) - the first company owned by persons of African descent to be awarded a Federal Communications Commission license to build a commercial TV station - has filed a motion with the New Jersey Supreme Court for a mandatory order that directs the New Jersey Appellate Division to vacate and reverse its July 5, 2007 denial of RBC's June 7, 2007 motion, Docket Number A-5114-92T1, Motion Number M-006059-06.

New Jersey Water Supply Law, 1958

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On Tuesday, January 22, 2008, 45 years after the "I Have A Dream" speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Renaissance Broadcasting Corporation (RBC) - the first company owned by persons of African descent to be awarded a Federal Communications Commission license to build a commercial TV station - filed a motion with the New Jersey Supreme Court for a mandatory order that directs the New Jersey Appellate Division to vacate and reverse its July 5, 2007 denial of RBC's June 7, 2007 motion, Docket Number A-5114-92T1, Motion Number M-006059-06.

The June 7, 2007 motion sought to nullify prior state court orders entered against RBC in violation of the New Jersey Declaratory Judgments Act (DJA), court rules and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The violations that resulted in the loss of RBC's TV station have been sustained for 27 years in cases docketed as Township of Waterford v. Renaissance Broadcasting Corporation, Docket Number A-5114-92T1. Waterford initiated the actions, on September 3, 1980, in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Docket Number L-1116-80.

The lawsuit was filed in response to an August 21, 1980 lease agreement between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and RBC.

The lease granted RBC a statutorily authorized right-of-way to construct and operate a commercial television broadcasting transmission system in the Wharton State Forest and the Preservation District of the Pinelands National Reserve on land within Waterford.

Waterford filed the lawsuit under the DJA to enjoin RBC from exercising the right-of-way until RBC complied with Waterford's site plan ordinance. Before the courts could consider the lawsuit, the DJA required Waterford to prove that it owned the Wharton State Forest or that State law permits municipalities to regulate its use. RBC is now alleging that the State courts violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to require Waterford to comply with the DJA.

They also allege that the courts and DEP compounded the constitutional violation by falsely stating that the right-of-way was not statutorily authorized.

RBC's 2007 discovery of reports previously withheld by DEP prove that the Wharton State Forest was purchased pursuant to the "New Jersey Water Supply Law, 1958" as a State water supply facility. DEP administers the property as a forest reserve in the State park system.

DEP withheld and the courts did not consider the Water Supply Law, which prevents municipalities from acquiring any interest in land within State water supply facilities. Hence, the courts do not have the power to entertain the type of lawsuits filed against RBC.

New Jersey Court Rule 4:6-7 requires all courts to dismiss lawsuits whenever it appears that they do not have the power to hear a particular type of case. Therefore, RBC filed the June 7, 2007 motion under the Fourteenth Amendment and Rule 4:6-7. Nevertheless, the Appellate Division denied RBC's motion on July 5, 2007.

United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall provided a remedy for such refusals over two centuries ago in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison (1803).

Chief Justice Marshall stated that the Supreme Court, in such cases, should enter a mandamus (a mandatory order) that directs the lower court to perform the duties imposed upon it by the Legislature and court rules. Chief Justice Marshall said the mandatory order should be entered "upon reasons of justice, * * * and upon reasons of public policy, to preserve peace, order and good government."

Chief Justice Marshall declared, "The Government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right."

Donald C. McMeans, president of RBC, says, "In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 'we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.' The spotlight is on the New Jersey Supreme Court." McMeans adds, "The question is simply whether this State and its Judicial System will adhere to the rule of law or the rule of men. There is no other alternative."

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