Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Avalon steps away from its curfew ordinance

In an October 1, 2014 e-mail to me, Avalon Borough Solicitor Stephen Barse advised me that on October 8, 2014, the Avalon Borough Council "will introduce an ordinance to repeal the existing curfew ordinance."   The letter that caused the Council to reconsider its curfew prohibition is set forth below.
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September 8, 2014

Hon. Martin L. Pagliughi,, Mayor, and members of the
Avalon Borough Council
3100 Dune Drive
Avalon, NJ 08202
Via e-mail only to Administrator Wahl at swahl@avalonboro.org

Dear Mayor Pagliughi and Council members:

Avalon Borough is mentioned in a recent Press of Atlantic City article as having "stepped up [its] curfew enforcement since" a 2012 decision that declared a similar curfew ordinance unconstitutional.
For the reasons that follow, I believe that Chapter 7-11 of Avalon'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 7-11 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, Avalon'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Egg Harbor Township in Atlantic County repealed its curfew ordinance after being sued and paid $10,000 in attorney fees.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 10, 2014 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