Kolovsky, Matthews and Crahay.
Appellants, 43 out of the 56 members of the Pennsauken Police Department, on May 11, 1972 "petitioned" the assignment judge to expunge a paragraph in a presentment handed up by the Camden County grand jury in January 1972, claiming that it constituted an improper and unfair censure of them. Then Assignment Judge Schalick denied the motion, generating this appeal.
In November 1970 a survey of the Pennsauken Township Police Department was conducted by one Walter V. McLaughlin,
a law-enforcement consultant, at the request of the township committee. Its stated purpose was two-fold: (1) to determine the conditions and causes affecting the morale of the Pennsauken Police Department, and (2) to examine generally the existing police organization. The McLaughlin report, consisting of 97 pages, extensively reviewed every facet of the operation of the Pennsauken Police Department. The report was subpoenaed before the September 1970 term of the Camden County grand jury and incorporated by reference into the involved presentment. After reviewing the presentment as required by the rules, (R. 3:6-9), Judge Schalick on January 26, 1972 released the presentment and provided for its distribution.
The presentment provided in part;
The testimony has shown that some members of the Pennsauken Police Department engaged in criminal activities. Some of these members have been indicted, but in other instances, the Grand Jury did not feel they had sufficient evidence to indict, even though they were convinced that numerous members, either past or present, of the Department, had engaged in criminal activities. * * * [Emphasis added]
Appellants, by their "petition" to the assignment judge filed on May 11, 1972, challenged the italicized portion of the presentment and asked that it be expunged urging that "the Grand Jury abused its power and went beyond the bounds of a legal presentment in determining guilt of numerous officers." The petitioners claim that "The Camden County Grand Jury * * * in effect, wrongfully found numerous Police Officers guilty of criminal activity." On June 29, 1972 the assignment judge denied the "petition."
Appellants argue that since the presentment employs the term "numerous members," it taints the reputation of every member of the Pennsauken Police Department and
syllogize that each petitioner then as an individual has suffered public censure for a charge of criminal activity. The argument has no merit. As Assignment Judge Schalick noted, it was beyond the realm of reason to think that the challenged portion of the presentment dealt with ascertainable individuals.
Appellants' reliance on In re Presentment by Camden County Grand Jury , 34 N.J. 378 (1961) (Camden II), is misplaced. In Camden II , a readily identifiable individual, the City of Camden's Director of Public Safety, was effectively censured for his alleged official misconduct in connection with gambling activities. The court there noted that following In re Camden County Grand Jury , 10 N.J. 23 (1952) (Camden I), the Supreme Court amended then R.R. 3:3-9 et seq. regulating the ...