New Jersey Racial Profiling Matter Successfully Concluded
October 15, 2009
New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine recently signed the Law Enforcement Professional Standards Act of 2009 (“the Act”), which adopted numerous recommendations of the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Police Standards (“the Advisory Committee”), chaired by Debevoise & Plimpton partner James E. Johnson. The Act codifies reforms implemented by the New Jersey State Police to end racial profiling and ensures continued oversight and accountability of State Police practices.
In 1999, after allegations of racial profiling of motorists by the State Police and the 1998 shooting of four unarmed black men on the New Jersey Turnpike, New Jersey and the U.S. Department of Justice entered into a consent decree that imposed on the State Police numerous reforms in supervision, oversight, training and data collection and analysis. The Advisory Committee was established by Governor Corzine in August 2006 to study whether the consent decree should be lifted and to make recommendations to the Governor regarding any necessary changes to state and local police practices and oversight. Under Mr. Johnson’s leadership, the 20-member committee conducted a thorough examination of the policies and practices of the State Police and compliance with the terms of the consent decree, conducted independent data analysis and heard expert and citizen testimony regarding racial profiling, police practices and interactions with law enforcement.
In December 2007, the Advisory Committee presented its voluminous final report to Governor Corzine and recommended the lifting of the consent decree, codifying numerous reforms of the consent decree and increased oversight by the Attorney General and Controller. The recommendations of the final report were the basis of the Law Enforcement Professional Standards bill that was introduced into the New Jersey legislature by Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson and Senators Ronald L. Rice and Shirley Turner. Mr. Johnson testified on the proposed legislation before a joint legislative committee. Governor Corzine signed the Law Enforcement Professional Standards Act into law on August 27, 2009.
Mr. Johnson focuses his practice on white collar criminal defense, internal investigations, corporate compliance and corporate crisis management in connection with internal investigations. He held several senior positions in the United States Department of the Treasury, including Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement (1998-2001) and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement (1996–98). He oversaw the operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the Secret Service, the United States Customs Service, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Prior to that, Mr. Johnson served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1990-96), where he rose to Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division (1993-96). During his tenure in the Southern District, he assisted in the management of the criminal division while prosecuting a wide variety of criminal cases, and was detailed to the United States Department of the Treasury to serve on the White House Security Review.
Mr. Johnson has received numerous awards for his service and accomplishments in both private practice and public service. Mr. Johnson is the recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Award (the Department of Treasury’s highest award, given to officials for excellence in service) and the Attorney General’s Certificate for Excellence in Prosecution. In 2003, he was named to Black Enterprise’s List of the Nation’s Top Black Lawyers and to Crain’s New York Business’s List of Most Powerful Minorities. Mr. Johnson is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Brennan Center for Justice, a member of the Executive Committee of Hale House and a director of Volunteers of Legal Services.
In addition to Mr. Johnson, a team of Debevoise attorneys provided logistical and information-gathering support to the committee on a pro bono basis. The Debevoise team included associates Courtney M. Dankworth, Shirley U. Emehelu and Emily O’Neill Slater.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is a leading international law firm, representing a wide range of clients around the world. Founded in 1931, the firm has offices in New York, Washington, D.C., London, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The firm has approximately 750 lawyers, including more than 150 lawyers in Europe.