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Roesch v. Ferber

Decided: May 10, 1957.

GEORGE F. ROESCH, 3RD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARTIN J. FERBER, SHERIFF OF BERGEN COUNTY, DEFENDANT



Schneider, J.c.c. (temporarily assigned).

Schneider

The plaintiff was taken into custody by a state trooper for speeding on February 13, 1957. He was taken to police headquarters in the Borough of Ramsey, in Bergen County, where bail was fixed at $50. The plaintiff is a young law student. He did not have the money. He called his father who is an attorney in Middletown, New York, and he came with the money for the bail.

In the meantime, the plaintiff was committed to the Bergen County jail where over his objections he was photographed and fingerprints taken.

Subsequently he pleaded guilty to the charge of speeding and was fined $20 and costs.

He instituted this suit requesting that the sheriff return the fingerprints and photographs and the sheriff be restrained from sending the photographs and fingerprints to other law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Despite a request to hold the material until the matter would be decided, the court is informed by the sheriff that the material has been disseminated to the New Jersey State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The court has no control over the F.B.I. and the State Police are not party to the suit. The issue may be decided only as to the sheriff.

The plaintiff contends that the fingerprinting and photographing not only caused and still cause embarrassment but may present some practical difficulties in seeking admission to the Bar of New York State.

R.S. 53:1-13 provides as follows:

"The supervisor of the state bureau of identification shall procure and file for record, fingerprints, plates, photographs, pictures, descriptions, measurements and such other information as may be

pertinent, of all persons who have been or may hereafter be convicted of an indictable offense within the state, and also of all well known and habitual criminals wheresoever the same may be procured.

The person in charge of any state institution shall furnish any such information to the supervisor of the state bureau of identification upon request ...


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