Not before New Jersey County Jail Officials insured I endured a seven-day nightmare.
Newark, NJ (PRWEB) November 29, 2005
The New York Times, Village Voice and multiple media have reported that racial profiling has been standard operating procedure in New Jersey for the last decade where state troopers stop vehicles based on race. Albert Florence, a black man, filed a $2 million federal lawsuit in the New Jersey District Court in Camden against Burlington and Essex Counties, case No.05CV3619, for false imprisonment, unlawful strip searches and discrimination during his seven-day unlawful imprisonment based on a vehicle stop. Mr. Florence's complaint alleges that he and his seven-month pregnant wife and 4-year-old son were driving their BMW on I-295 South by Burlington County when a New Jersey State Trooper stopped them for speeding; however a speeding ticket was never issued. Instead the State Trooper handcuffed and arrested Mr. Florence in front of his son and pregnant wife and took him to Burlington County Jail claiming an Essex County warrant existed for his arrest.
The complaint further alleges that for seven days Mr. Florence was denied a shower, toothpaste, a phone call and denied a bail hearing, while the county jails strip searched him twice for no reason. He was released seven days later only because his wife found an attorney who made one phone call to confirm a warrant for his arrest never existed. An Essex County Judge ordered Mr. Florence's immediate release, but, according to Mr. Florence, "Not before New Jersey County Jail Officials insured I endured a seven-day nightmare."
Burlington and Essex Counties based Mr. Florence's seven-day imprisonment and strip searches upon an April, 2003 Essex County warrant for a $1,574.00 Judgment due the State of New Jersey; however, that warrant was satisfied in April, 2003 and the satisfaction was recorded in the county computer systems. Burlington and Essex County Officials refused for seven days to make a simple phone call or check their computer system to confirm the warrant did not exist. Susan Chana Lask, Esq., named in the media as New York's "High Powered attorney", represents Mr. Florence and informs that after the federal suit was filed, the counties ignored the whole seven-day unlawful imprisonment by blaming a computer error and focused on a defense that Mr. Florence was never strip searched but was only subjected to "standard operating procedures" to strip naked, submit to a visual inspection and bend, squat and cough before jail personnel and other inmates.
Ms. Lask explains, "The counties' defense is stripped of reality! Here, Mr. Florence was imprisoned on a civil, nonviolent warrant that did not exist in the first place, then denied basic pivileges of a shower for seven days and subjected to strip and cavity searches not once but twice. The first search was unconstitutional and the second one 6 days later while in custody was dehumanizing. The whole incident violates New Jersey laws and Mr. Florence's civil rights. Apparently Burlington and Essex Counties make their own laws and ignore our Supreme Court and constitutional rights."
Mr. Florence said, "Everyday I fear driving in New Jersey. I had seven days of living hell, arrested in front of my pregnant wife and 4-year-old son on a warrant that never existed, then refused any communication, a shower and humiliated by strip searches. It's all proof that racism and civil rights are not important in New Jersey; racial profiling still exists in the police force and the government agencies."
A PRESS CONFERENCE WITH MR. FLORENCE AND HIS COUNSEL WILL BE HELD THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2005 AT 11 A.M. at 466 Bloomfield Ave, Suite 200, Newark, New Jersey.
# # #