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Newark Legal Issues Blog

Newark, New Jersey Criminal Defense Legal Blog

FBI terror watchlist ruled unconstitutional by federal judge

New Jersey readers may be interested to learn that a federal judge recently ruled that the FBI's watchlist of "known or suspected terrorists" is unconstitutional. The ruling was handed down on Sept. 4.

The case was brought before the court by a group of American Muslims who claimed they were wrongly added to the Terrorist Screening Database. They also claimed the government used an overbroad approach when deciding who should be added to the list and that the list contained numerous errors. The Council on American-Islamic Relations helped the plaintiffs file the lawsuit. The judge agreed with the plaintiffs, finding that the significant travel burdens experienced by those named on the list were unconstitutional. The judge is seeking additional legal briefs on the matter before deciding what remedies to impose.

Do you know how to interact with police?

Most people never find themselves interacting with police. And if they do, it's typically the result of a basic traffic violation, such as running a stop sign or speeding.

However, there are other situations in which you may have to interact with police, such as if they stop you on the street or show up on your front porch.

Some foreign cars more likely to be in crashes, says survey

A survey looking at cars that are currently on roadways in New Jersey and across the country found that one model has been involved in more at-fault crashes than any other. The study made use of statistics gathered by Insurify as part of its insurance quote process. Drivers were asked the make and model of their cars and whether their vehicle had ever been in an accident. The study indicated that 13.64% of car models had been involved in a crash.

The Subaru Crosstrek was the most likely to have been in a crash, at 25.81%. The Honda HR-V was the second most likely, at 25.7%. Of the top 10 cars on Insurify's crash list, nine were imports. Seven of them were Japanese, and two were Korean. The only American-made vehicle in the top 10 was the Chevrolet Trax. The Korean vehicles are both manufactured by Hyundai: the Elantra GT and the Santa Fe Sport.

Keeping free of distractions on the road

Drivers in New Jersey may not realize just how many distractions they face behind the wheel. Anything that takes their attention from the road can be considered a distraction. This includes calling; texting; the use of infotainment systems; and even basic activities like eating, drinking, and talking with passengers.

There are ways to avoid these distractions, though. Drivers should, first of all, put their phones on Do Not Disturb mode and stay far away from them. Even hands-free devices are dangerous. Next, drivers might want to follow a policy of no eating in the car because eating brings with it the risk of spills and loud arguments among children.

Reasons to avoid sitting in a rear car seat

A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has discovered that rear seats are lagging behind front seats in terms of safety. Automotive experts have been so busy incorporating new devices for front seats that rear-seat safety remains, in essence, the same as it was in the 1990s. New Jersey residents may want to think twice about sitting in the back of a car.

The IIHS has pointed out several deficiencies in rear-seat safety. The first is a lack of force limiters. These devices unspool webbing from a seat belt to give more space to passengers when their harness tightens against them. The second area of concern has to do with airbags. While some automakers are developing forward airbags for rear seats, they are far from becoming a regular feature. The lack of side curtain airbags can also prove detrimental.

Judges and civil rights groups call for bail and fines reform

Incarceration rates in New Jersey and around the country are among the highest in the world, but not all jail inmates are behind bars because they committed a crime. Many indigent criminal defendants are sent to jail before their trials even begin because they cannot afford to post bail, and thousands more find themselves behind bars because of outstanding traffic tickets or unpaid fines.

Civil rights groups have called the current system a war on the poor, but implementing reform is proving difficult because many municipalities have grown reliant on the revenue generated by fines and fees. The Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that incarcerating individuals who are too poor to pay fines violates the U.S. Constitution, but the situation persists. Fees and fines are used to fund the court systems in many parts of the country, and judges in some states are required to explain themselves in writing when they are waived.

Most common types of car accident injuries

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a car accident, your health should take top priority. The sooner you pinpoint your injuries, the sooner you can receive treatment. Subsequently, you're putting yourself on the path to making a full recovery.

You can suffer many types of injuries in a car accident, with these among the most common:

  • Burns and abrasions: These are most common in accidents in which you're thrown around the cabin of your vehicle or onto the pavement. Also, in the event that your vehicle catches fire, burns are a major concern.
  • Broken bones: Every bone in your body is susceptible to breaks and fractures in a motor vehicle accident. From your feet all the way up to your skull, your bones are at risk.
  • Head injuries: These are among the most serious injuries, as they can impact your life now and in the future. Common types of head injuries include concussion, fractured skull and bleeding on the brain.
  • Neck and back injuries: The most serious neck and back injury is a fracture, as this can result in temporary or permanent paralysis. However, there are other types of injuries that fit into this category, such as whiplash.
  • Chest injuries: These often occur when your chest hits the steering wheel or from the force of the airbag deploying. Depending on the amount of force, broken bones and cardiac arrest are possible.

Among US holidays, July Fourth sees most DUI fatalities

Between 2010 and 2017, a total of 1,192 people died in drunk driving crashes on the Fourth of July. This is according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. This makes Independence Day the deadliest of the major U.S. holidays for DUI fatalities. New Jersey residents should know that Memorial Day came in second with 1,105 deaths during that same eight-year span.

The DUI fatality rate comes to 42.4 per day for Independence Day. For a comparable summer day, the fatality rate is closer to 26.1. During the Fourth of July weekend in 2017, there were 184 drunk driving crash deaths. Taking an equivalent period of four to five days in summer, the average number of fatalities came to 117.

Study finds high number of police force incidents in New Jersey

New Jersey is not properly tracking incidents of police force, bad policies and abusive officers, according to a new investigation by NJ Advance Media. The 16-month investigation resulted in "The Force Report," which was published on NJ.com in June.

Even though state officials announced plans for a centralized police force tracking system almost 20 years ago, there is still no statewide tracking system in place. In addition, police departments undergo little state oversight and have been issued no standard practices to follow. In an attempt to obtain accurate data on police force incidents, researchers filed 506 public records requests and received reports on over 72,500 use-of-force incidents involving officers from all New Jersey municipal police departments and the State Police between 2012 and 2016.

Summer driving can be risky for teens

New Jersey parents may be concerned about the safety of their teens driving during the summer months. With summer comes a break from school and a range of new activities that may prompt teens to drive more frequently. Jobs, internships, camps, parties and other summer activities often require teens to transport themselves, so they may find themselves driving much more frequently than they do during the school year. In addition, restrictions like curfews are often loosened during the summer, so teens may be more likely to drive at night.

While summer may not officially begin until late June, Memorial Day has long been considered the unofficial launch of the season that ends informally on Labor Day. The 100-day period between these holidays is associated with a range of injuries from a variety of causes, including motor vehicle accidents. Of course, car crashes aren't the only cause of summertime injuries; many warm-weather activities carry with them some risk. Still, they are a significant contributor to the busy schedules of emergency personnel during the summer months.

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