The Court concluded with the following in relevant part: The Court does not separately address potential challenges that may arise if or when local chief law enforcement executives decide to release names of officers involved in historical incidents of misconduct. If parties seek to challenge orders by chief law enforcement executives, pursuant to Directive 2020-5, on estoppel grounds, they may file an application with the Assignment Judge in their respective vicinages. Assignment Judges have the authority to set up a process similar to the one outlined for State Troopers — a broad-based evidentiary hearing about an agency’s disciplinary practices, followed by individual as-applied challenges, if necessary. The procedures outlined in section VI.B for as-applied challenges brought by Troopers would apply.
For major discipline imposed after the Attorney General issued the Directives, officers can expect their identities will be released to the public. They may challenge disciplinary findings in the ordinary course. The framework outlined in section VI.B applies only to historical cases of major discipline, imposed before the Directives were issued, in which officers challenge the release of their names on estoppel grounds.
Appellants claim the Directives violate their rights to substantive and procedural due process and equal protection; run afoul of the APA; impair their constitutional right to contract; and violate their constitutional right to collective negotiations. As to those points, the Court affirms the judgment of the Appellate Division largely for the reasons stated in Judge Accurso’s thoughtful opinion. See 465 N.J. Super. The judgment of the Appellate Division is affirmed as modified.
Here, we see additional litigation that will result from these challenges to the Attorney General’s Directive. Most of it will occur before civil or administrative law judges. A related criminal case issue concerns impeachment evidence. If an officer who is challenging the release of his or her major discipline records is a key witness in a criminal case, the release of the records could provide valuable impeachment evidence.