Friday, October 31, 2014

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Judge Issues Order to End Harassment, Intimidation, and Civil Rights Deprivations by Bergen County Police

Today, Donald Burke, Esq., filed a lawsuit and an order to show cause in United States District Court on behalf of Bergen County Sheriff's Officers James Tassillo, Alvin Nunez, and Elby Tineo.  The three were denied access to the Bergen County Administrative Building on October 23, 2014 because they were wearing shirts in support of Freeholder Jim Tedesco (who is seeking election to the office of County Executive on November 4, 2014).  James Giblin, the Assistant Director of Security, denied the three men access to the building citing that the building was a polling place and they were wearing political advertisements (which were prohibited within 100 feet of the entrance). 

The Deputy Attorney General has since weighed in advising the Superintendent of Elections, Patricia Dicostonza, that Giblin's assertion is inaccurate and that the County Administrative Building is not a polling place on a day that is not Election Day, a primary, or Board of Education election.

Bergen County Police Chief Brian Higgins told Cliffview Pilot that he disagreed and that the three Sheriff's Officers were also in violation of the ethics code of the County Administrative Code which "prohibits county employees from conducting such activity on county property."  In the suit Burke contends that "this interpretation of the County Code, prohibiting Bergen County employees from expressing support for candidates for public office while off duty and out of uniform is an unconstitutional infringement of the free speech rights of Bergen County employees and such a statement is intended to and does chill protected speech."  Burke goes on to state that these claims by Higgins "constitute threats, intimidation or coercion made unlawful by the New Jersey Civil Rights Act."

An Order to Show Cause for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraints was filed this afternoon seeking an order to:
  • stop any person from being denied access to the county administration building on the basis of content-based restrictions, 
  • stopping the defendants from labeling the county administration building a polling place except for on Election Day, and days when primary and Board of Education elections are held, 
  • and stopping the defendants from making further threatening, harassing, or intimidating statements regarding the plaintiff's attempts to engage in protected speech and expressive activities.  
The matter was scheduled to be heard on Monday, November 3, at 2:00 pm.  However, with the administrative building being open this weekend and County Counsel contending that the County would continue to restrict access to the building based on political speech (despite the Deputy Attorney General advising the building is NOT a polling place), Judge Salas ruled today on Burke's 21 page brief and issued the order for injunctive relief.  Until Election Day, no person shall be denied access, or otherwise be harassed or intimidated, based upon their expression of constitutionally protected free speech. 

The lawsuit against the County of Bergen, Kathleen Donovan, Brian Higgins, Bergen County Police Department, James Giblin, and John Does 1-10, will move forward.


9 comments:

  1. more $ for the lawyers

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    1. Early, absentee voting is and has been taking place at this location for a couple of weeks already. Maybe the judge needs to take a walk and see for himself instead of assuming in error. Tedesco should advise his team about their intimidating tactics - his failed leadership is on display every time they do this.

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    2. Did Tedesco award contracts based on who was having sex with the Republiccan Party GOP Boss? The answer is no and that is why voters are going to vote in JAMES TEDESCO and get rid of the double dipper Donovan and all of her wasteful lawsuits. Taxpayers are sick of double dipper Donovan.

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  2. Anonymous,
    Voting has been going on at people's kitchen tables for weeks already too. Can they wear a Donovan or Tedesco hat within their home? Judge did not assume voting is not being done there--The Superintendent of Elections and Deputy Attorney General were clear that this is NOT a polling place.

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  3. This suddenly became a problem why? Previous candidates, Rep & Dem, didn't have an issue with any of this. Did the laws change recently? Or is someone just stirring things up. Either way, politicians are liars. Once in office they do what they want for their "friends". BOTH SIDES DO IT! Don't think one party is better than the other. Think for yourself. Vote your own interests. Drop the party line.

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