In July 2014, the ACLU-NJ submitted an amicus brief in support of the Plaintiffs, the family of Israel Bornstein. Bornstein, an inmate at Monmouth County Correctional Institution died within four hours of arriving at the jail. In response to the county’s motion for a judgment in their favor, the plaintiffs included the jail’s surveillance video of the interactions between Bornstein and jail staff. The county made a motion to seal the video from public view. The ACLU-NJ’s brief argues that the defendants did not identify a serious and clearly defined harm that would result if the video was released because the footage shows areas of the jails that inmates already have access to. Even if the jail had specified a risk, the ACLU-NJ believes that the public’s interest in access to the footage outweighs the speculative risk to the security of the jail. The brief argues that public’s interest in transparency – not only in court records but in records that illuminate how a public entity functions – is paramount. Because Mr. Bornstein died while in custody of the County Defendants, the public has a right to understand how the facility is managed and to gauge both the risk of future injuries or deaths at MCCI and the potential costs of those risks, both human and financial.
Status: In response to the decision by the Magistrate Judge to deny the motion to suppress the video, the defendants have appealed the decision.
- Bornstein: Amicus Brief (81 KB pdf)