State v. Nyema; State v. Myers, 249 N.J. 509 (2022)


In 2011, Hamilton Township Police responded to an armed robbery at a convenience store and broadcast a “Be On the Look-Out” order for “two Black males, one with a handgun.” A police officer began shining a bright light into cars traveling away from the store. A man and woman in the first car appeared annoyed by the light, and the officer decided not to stop them. The three Black men travelling in the second car did not react when the officer shined the light into their car. The police officer stopped the car based on that non-reaction, their skin color, and gender. A subsequent search of the vehicle recovered a handgun, money, and dark clothing. The men were arrested and charged with first-degree robbery, among other charges.

Two of the men, Peter Nyema and Jamar Myers, separately challenged the initial traffic stop, questioning whether police had enough reasonable suspicion to justify it.

The case made it to the N.J. Supreme Court. Raymond Brown, representing amici curiae Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey and National Coalition of Latino Officers, argued that the police lacked a reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle and that permitting such a stop would encourage racial profiling and cause harm to people of color. 

In a unanimous ruling released in January 2022, the N.J. Supreme Court found that the description of the suspects was too broad to justify reasonable suspicion and “effectively placed every single Black male in the area under the veil of suspicion…” The decision also noted that precedent had already established that nervous or furtive actions and a lack of eye contact with a police officer were not sufficient reasons to act.

While this ruling won’t put an end to racial profiling, it will result in fewer people of color being unjustly targeted and terrorized.

Our firm is proud of the results it has achieved for clients, some of which are noted here.  Of course, each legal matter is unique on many levels, and past successes are not a guarantee of results in any other pending or future matters.


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