Barnes v. Camden

On July 29, 2010, the ACLU-NJ and the national ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project filed a lawsuit against five former Camden police officers, the Camden Police Department and agencies responsible for oversight of the Department on behalf of Joel Barnes, a Camden resident who spent 14 months in custody because police planted evidence on him.

Mr. Barnes was one of the many victims of a wide-ranging drug-planting scheme, which resulted in the illegal arrest and incarceration of many Camden residents. As a result of an investigation into abuses including planting evidence, which has thus far led to three officers pleading guilty to federal indictments, the Camden County Prosecutor moved to dismiss charges against 185 individuals. Mr. Barnes was among those who were released as a result: but not before he served one year, one month and 24 days in custody.

The complaint alleges that the Camden Police falsely arrested Mr. Barnes and contributed to his illegal prosecution; violated his due process rights; and conspired to violate his civil rights. The complaint also charges that the Camden County Prosecutor and New Jersey Attorney General failed to properly supervise the Police Department. In addition to damages for Mr. Barnes to compensate for the violation of his rights, the suit seeks to bring about institutional changes that will ensure that such fundamental abuses of civil rights do not occur again at the expense of Mr. Barnes or anyone else. This case has been settled in favor of the Plaintiff.

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