The City of Camden, New Jersey, in 2013, agreed to pay $3.5 million for extensive police corruption. 88 claimants sued Camden in Federal Court and in state court for damages because of false drug convictions obtained when police falsely planted evidence on innocent civilians. The allegations of wrongdoing also included faking evidence, creating false arrest reports, lying before grand juries, perjury and stealing drugs and cash from suspected drug dealers.
An FBI investigation helped discover the wrongdoing. As a result of the FBI investigation and the wrong, three Camden officers pled guilty to related charges. A fourth Camden officer pled guilty at trial. According to the ACLU, the 88 claimants spent a combined 109 years in jail for the wrongful conviction. Many of the claimants did have other drug convictions.
According to the New Jersey ALCU’s policy counsel, Alexander Shalom, the officers acted wrongfully for years. The Camden Internal Affairs Unit did not discover the wrongdoing because of understaffing problems and old technology. Shalom expressed the hope that the Camden verdict would be a deterrent to misconduct in other police departments.
Our Firm’s Involvement
The lead attorney for the plaintiff’s group was , of the Cherry Hill law firm of Begelman & Orlow. Mr. Melletz was also involved in the settlement discussions.
The $3.5 million settlement was in addition to 11 state suits that were brought and settled for $340,000.
A Sample Case
Joel Barnes, a Camden resident was arrested in 2008 after the Camden police planted drugs on him. He was represented by the ACLU and the ACLU of New Jersey. Barnes was arrested at the house of a friend while helping the friend get ready for a barbecue. The Camden police raided the house. When Barnes truthfully said he don’t know about any drugs, the police planted drugs on him. They charged him with possession and intent to distribute drugs. Barnes pled guilty (even though he was innocent), in 2009, because he was afraid his testimony would not be as persuasive as the police testimony. Barnes happened to read about the FBI investigation, while in jail. Barnes’s conviction was vacated by the New Jersey Superior Court in 2010 and he was freed four months later. He served over a year.
Civil Rights Cases
People whose Constitutional rights have been violated may have a claim if their right was violated wilfully by someone acting on behalf of a state or local government. In the Camden police corruption case, the police officers were acting on behalf of Camden, New Jersey. Their actions (they planted evidence, lied, faked evidence, created false police reports and did other acts) were alleged to be wilful.
Several Constitutional Rights were alleged to have been violated starting with the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to life, liberty and property with due process of law and several of the Amendments to the Bill of Rights. If you or anyone you know has suffered because of wilful police, prosecutorial, prison or any other type of government authority and a Constitutional right was violated you may a Civil Rights claim for damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.
Contact Begelman & Orlow, P. C.
If you want to discuss your potential legal claims with an experienced New Jersey or Federal Civil Rights Attorney, contact us today for a free initial consultation. If you’ve been treated wrongfully because of law enforcement misconduct, contact us today for a free initial consultation. From our offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, we represent clients pursuing Civil Rights throughout the country.