What's at Stake
On January 29, 2024, the ACLU and the ACLU of New Jersey filed an amicus brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in support of Plaintiff Nijeer Parks. The brief argues that law enforcement’s wrongful arrest of Mr. Parks due to police reliance on unreliable facial face recognition technology violated Mr. Parks’s constitutional rights.
The ACLU and the ACLU of New Jersey filed an amicus brief in support of Nijeer Parks—an innocent Black man wrongfully arrested due to police misuse of facial recognition technology.
In January 2019, police in Woodbridge, New Jersey responded to an alleged shoplifting incident in a hotel lobby. Before fleeing, the suspect provided police with a fake driver license. Woodbridge police then sent a blurry and shadowed image of this driver license photo to an out-of-state investigator, who ran the picture through a face recognition system and informed police officers that Nijeer Parks was a “possible hit.” Without conducting any reliable follow-up investigation, the police applied for an arrest warrant, but concealed from the magistrate judge critical facts about the unreliability of the face recognition search and other defects in the investigation. Woodbridge police arrested Mr. Parks and kept him in jail for ten days, even though they could have confirmed he was nowhere near Woodbridge at the time of the incident.
This case is one of a number of known wrongful arrests due to law enforcement misuse of face recognition technology. Face recognition technology is dangerously unreliable and subjects Black and brown people to higher rates of misidentification. Nearly every known case of a wrongful arrest due to police reliance on incorrect face recognition results has involved the arrest of a Black person. This filing is a continuation of the ACLU’s ongoing work involving the dangers posed by unfettered police use of facial recognition technology, including representing Michigan resident Robert Williams in his wrongful arrest lawsuit against Detroit police.
The ACLU’s amicus brief in this case was filed in support of Plaintiff’s opposition to Defendants’ motion for summary judgement. The brief argues that Mr. Parks’s case should be allowed to continue to trial to vindicate his civil rights.