New Jersey ACLU Calls on Attorney General To Get Serious About Racial Profiling

Affiliate: ACLU of New Jersey
March 12, 1999 12:00 am

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ACLU of New Jersey
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Friday, March 12, 1999

NEWARK, NJ — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey today called on Attorney General Peter Verniero to stop playing politics with the important issue of racial profiling.

The ACLU said it is concerned that the Attorney General’s office has moved to delay proceedings in New Jersey v. Soto until June – one month after Verniero will face nomination hearings for a seat in the state Supreme Court.

“If Verniero is going to continue to deny the existence of racial profiling in court, he should do so openly and publicly,” said Kevin Keenan, acting Executive Director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “If he wants to drop his appeal of Soto, that’s fine too. But, don’t play political hide-and-seek with racial profiling.”

In his 1995 ruling in Soto, Superior Court Judge Francis found that the New Jersey State Police were employing an illegal policy of “racial profiling.” The court also criticized the State Police for their refusal to address the racist practice, which was exposed as early as 1989. Since 1995, the Attorney General’s office has vociferously objected to the findings in Soto and denied the existence of racial profiling.

“It is only on the heels of the increasing public furor over racial profiling and public commentary calling for a review of Verniero’s perceived complacency that the Attorney General’s office seeks to delay Soto,” said Soto co-counsel William Buckman.

“Racial profiling has already been investigated and decided. For the last decade, Verniero has shown little desire to approach the energy and scope of the investigation that underlies Judge Francis’ opinion.”

Earlier today, Buckman filed a response to the Attorney General’s motion for an extension. In his affidavit, Buckman detailed Verniero’s long record of resistance, delay, and shenanigans. He also questioned the sincerity and relevance of the Attorney General’s “unprecedented comprehensive” investigation, which was not ordered until February 10, 1999 — four years after the Soto finding and ten months after the shooting of four unarmed minorities on the New Jersey Turnpike.

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