Monday, September 8, 2014

Regarding Repeal of Paulsboro's juvenile curfew ordinance

September 8, 2014

Hon. W. Jeffery Hamilton, Mayor, and members of the
Paulsboro Borough Council
1211 Delaware Street
Paulsboro, NJ 08066
Via e-mail only

Dear Mayor Hamilton and Council members:

For the reasons that follow, I believe that Chapter 28 of Paulsboro's Code, establishing a juvenile curfew, is unconstitutional and that a person against whom enforcement is sought may have a viable lawsuit against the Borough.

Compare Chapter 28 to Wanaque Borough's juvenile curfew ordinance which is attached as Exhibit A to the April 10, 2013 civil complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which I've placed on-line here.  Like Wanaque's, Paulsboro's curfew ordinance does not contain an exception for cases where the minor has parental consent to be in public during curfew hours.

The brief filed by the ACLU, which is on-line here, gives several compelling reasons why that lack of such an exception makes Wanaque's curfew ordinance unconstitutional.  According to an August 13, 2014 article in Suburban Trends, Wanaque has responded to the ACLU's lawsuit by introducing an ordinance repealing its curfew law in its entirety and by paying $55,000 in attorney fees to the ACLU."

Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County repealed its curfew ordinance after being sued and paid $10,000 in attorney fees. The Atlantic County judge's preliminary decision in that case is on-line here.

Whether you are for or against juvenile curfews, I am sure that you will see the wisdom in keeping the Borough out of a potentially costly lawsuit.  I ask that you please ask the Borough Attorney to provide a legal opinion regarding the curfew ordinance's constitutionality and discuss that opinion at your September 16, 2014 work session meeting.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party's
Preempted Ordinance Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ  08875
Phone 732-873-1251
e-mail: paff@pobox.com