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STEPHENS v. YEOMANS

October 30, 1970

Robert A. STEPHENS, Plaintiff,
v.
William F. YEOMANS, as Superintendent of Elections in Essex County, New Jersey, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GIBBONS

GIBBONS, Circuit Judge.

The plaintiff, Robert A. Stephens, is a citizen and a permanent resident of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. In 1961, when he was nineteen years old, he was convicted of larceny of an automobile in the County Court of Essex County. He received a sentence of probation for three years. Plaintiff is now employed as an electronics technician and in that capacity has received a security clearance from the federal government. He has not been convicted of a crime since 1961. On May 27, 1968, he registered as a voter with the Essex County Board of Elections. Thereafter he was notified that his name had been stricken from the voting list pursuant to N.J.S. 19:4-1(4) and 19:33-1. Plaintiff meets all qualifications for suffrage in Article 2 of the New Jersey Constitution except those of Article 2, par. 7, which provides:

 
The Legislature may pass laws to deprive persons of the right of suffrage who shall be convicted of such crimes as it may designate. Any person so deprived, when pardoned or otherwise restored by law to the right of suffrage, shall again enjoy that right.

 In 1948 acting apparently pursuant to paragraph 7 of Article 2, the New Jersey Legislature enacted N.J.S. 19:4-1 which provides:

 
Except as provided in sections 19:4-2 and 19:4-3 of this Title, every person possessing the qualifications required by Article II, paragraph 3, of the Constitution of the State of New Jersey and having none of the disqualifications hereinafter stated and being duly registered as required by this Title, shall have the right of suffrage and shall be entitled to vote in the polling place assigned to the election district in which he actually resides, and not elsewhere.
 
No person shall have the right of suffrage -
 
(1) Who is an idiot or is insane; or
 
(2) Who has been or shall be convicted of any of the following designated crimes, that is to say -- blasphemy, treason, murder, piracy, arson, rape, sodomy, or the infamous crime against nature, committed with mankind or with beast, robbery, conspiracy, forgery, perjury or subornation of perjury, unless pardoned or restored by law to the right of suffrage; or
 
(3) Who was convicted prior to October 6, 1948, of the crime of polygamy or of larceny of above the value of $6.00; or who was convicted after October 5, 1948, and prior to the effective date of this act, of larceny of above the value of $20.00; or
 
(4) Who shall hereafter be convicted of the crime of larceny of the value of $200.00 or more, unless pardoned or restored by law to the right of suffrage; or
 
(5) Who was convicted after October 5, 1948, or shall be convicted of the crime of bigamy or of burglary or of any offense described in chapter 94 of Title 2A or section 2A:102-1 or section 2A:102-4 of the New Jersey Statutes or described in sections 24:18-4 and 24:18-47 of the Revised Statutes, unless pardoned or restored by law to the right of suffrage; or
 
(6) Who has been convicted of a violation of any of the provisions of this Title, for which criminal penalties were imposed, if such person was deprived of such right as part of the punishment therefor according to law unless pardoned or restored by law to the right of suffrage; or
 
(7) Who shall be convicted of the violation of any of the provisions of this Title, for which criminal penalties are imposed, if such person shall be deprived of such right as part of the punishment therefor according to law, ...

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