YieldSign

WHEN TO YIELD IN WRITING

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

Punctuation problems can damage a person’s credibility.  Many writers use a comma in a sentence whenever there is a pause.  Sometimes, this can be true.  For example:  If you read your sentence aloud, then this would be when you would take a breath.  However, this idea has led to the overuse of commas.

Rule:  A comma is properly used at the beginning of a sentence after an introductory phrase.

Writers tend to insert commas in ways “that” interfere with the clarity of their ideas in a sentence.

Rule:  Not before the word “that” (essential information) but before the word “which” (provides additional information that is not essential to the main idea).

The “test” to determine the need to use two commas is performed by lifting the phrase, within the two commas, out of the sentence.  Does the sentence make sense or become nonsense?

The comma is like the yield sign when driving.  It can be tricky and requires judgment.    Experience is the key to success.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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2000px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Congress.svg

REPUBLICANS NEED TO USE THEIR ARTICLE I POWERS

By NATALIA CASTRO

To avert constant Democratic threats of a government shutdown, President Trump and Congress have been forced to pass short-term spending bills. The next deadline to pass funding is now March 23, and Congressional Republicans must use the time before them to outline key areas to save money, achieve policy objectives and reduce the deficit to ensure fiscal security moving forward.

President Donald Trump immediately expressed distaste for the Feb. 9 legislation which ended an overnight government shutdown; Trump admitted via Twitter, “Without more Republicans in Congress, we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want in order to finally, after many years of depletion, take care of our Military. Sadly, we needed some Dem votes for passage.”

The legislation, entitled the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, ends the spending caps on domestic and military spending, known as sequestration, for this fiscal year and the next by about $300 billion while lifting the federal debt limit until March 2019. While this averted a more protracted shutdown, it also angered conservatives in favor of fiscal austerity.

Before the March 23 deadline, Republicans must use their Article I power of the purse to defund government programs which are exacerbating our national debt and causing economic harm across the country.

Among the promised defunds which are continually funded under current spending measures are the new and existing power plant regulations, the Waters of the U.S. rule that regulates every puddle in America, methane emission regulations, sage grouse protections, Planned Parenthood funding, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The new and existing power plant regulations, a part of former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, waged a war on coal, making it much more expensive to do business in the U.S.

Obama’s methane emission regulations, implemented in Aug. 2016, places restrictions on the amount of gas released into the air during drilling operations on federal lands, placing a significant burden on producers while stifling innovation. This rule alone produced an estimated cost of $320 million in 2020 and $530 million in 2025, according to the Federal Register.

Similarly, the federal government protections of the sage grouse, a Western bird known for its flamboyant mating dance, have distorted the mission of the Department of Interior (DOI) and harmed U.S. energy security.

Despite not being considered an endangered species, the Obama era DOI instituted 98 sage grouse habitat management plans across ten states, marking a significant amount of land as protected spaces for the bird.

When Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced initial plans to review and remove this order, it immediately sparked support from energy groups. National Mining Association President Hal Quinn said in a statement to the Washington Post, “This damaging and unnecessary ban would have barred mining on 10 million acres of mineral-rich lands, further increasing our import dependence.”

Congress must back the call from leaders in the Trump administration to reduce spending by defunding these unwanted programs — and then move to cut baseline spending if at all possible. Failing to adjust the baseline downward will only contribute to the burden of mounting debt.

Via Twitter, President Trump called for a simple solution to the country’s budgeting woes: elect more Republicans, since 60 votes are needed in the Senate to pass a spending measure. As Trump explained, “Costs on non-military lines will never come down if we do not elect more Republicans in the 2018 Election, and beyond. This Bill is a BIG VICTORY for our Military, but much waste in order to get Dem votes. Fortunately, DACA not included in this Bill, negotiations to start now!”

If Congress is going to implement the spending cuts our country needs, there are only two options — win over 60 Republicans in the Senate in the 2018 midterms or push the Democrats to the negotiating table. Either way, Congress must institute spending cuts this time around, no matter how difficult the path is to get there.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties.  For more information on ALG please visit the website at www.GetLiberty.org.  You can read more articles at www.dailytorch.com.

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injury

DEDICATION DESERVES PROTECTION

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

On March 16, 2018, New Jersey State Correctional Police Officer J. Sheaffer was attacked by an inmate at Juvenile Medium Security Facility in Bordentown.  The responding officers were able to intervene and stopped the attack.  Officer Sheaffer suffered multiple fractures to his face and damage to his teeth.  He received treatment at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Hamilton.

PBA Local 105 President, Brian Renshaw, stated:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with State Correctional Police Officer Sheaffer and his family. On behalf of his fellow PBA Local 105 family, we wish him a quick recovery and we thank him for his dedication to a career that can bring a lot of danger. Unfortunately, this is now the second time this month I have had to address one of our officers being attacked by an inmate.  This is becoming too much of an occurrence and I am looking to our state leaders to take action.

 “We have made great progress in addressing the need to fully compensate our State Correctional Officers when they are out on medical leave due to an inmate attack. This month alone we have seen two officers attacked by inmates; this incident and the attack on OFC John Laino earlier this month. These attacks are real and occur all too often and they need to be addressed now. It is long overdue. These are blue collar workers who need their paycheck and cannot afford to lose a day’s pay, let alone weeks or months. This isn’t just about the officer, but about their families.

 “The legislative language for SLI [Sick Leave Injury] benefits needs to be made clear and cover injured officers who are attacked by the hands of an inmate. Our State Correctional Police Officers deserve their full SLI benefits when they are out on extended leave due to an attack by an inmate, period.  I will fight to make sure our members and their families are fully compensated should this sort of tragedy ever happen to them. They fight for their state, and I will fight for them.”

 Sick Leave Injury (SLI) benefits are different from Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability Benefits.  The Workers’ Compensation benefits (full wages for up to 6 months) are triggered when an officer suffers bodily injury from an inmate under the officer’s custody and during the course of performance of officer’s duties.  However, on January 9, 2018, Assembly Bill A823 was introduced to reinstate SLI to any Corrections and Juvenile Justice Officer who “…sustains an injury caused by and arising from direct contact with inmates in the performance of the officer’s duties” (See A823).  This legislative action by the New Jersey Assembly must generate additional support in the Senate to become a law.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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pic - Mueller

TIME TO END SPECIAL COUNSEL INVESTIGATION THAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEGUN IN FIRST PLACE

By KENNETH DEL VECCHIO

The Robert Mueller special counsel investigation is rotten at its core, given that it was initiated with a specious cause: to investigate alleged illegal collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and “Russians” to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. While Mueller, his staff, Rod Rosenstein and others may have had a good faith belief in rumors that personnel from the Trump campaign had such dealings (and therefore believed an investigation was warranted), the rumors were riddled with wild innuendo, substantial ambiguity, and political animus.

The totality of these distasteful issues, coupled with wholly insufficient evidence, should have resulted in a decision to stop the special counsel investigation before it started. The investigation is not only a gross misuse of tens of millions of tax dollars, but it has damaged many innocent persons lives. And it has been a persistent, unnecessary albatross wrapped around the neck of America and its international reputation.

Wrongful legal conclusions have abounded, causing a daytime TV-like melodrama which, daily, delivers one silly pundit analysis after another. There has been a serious misunderstanding of the law – by not only the media and politicos, but also by many purported legal minds – regarding the core of the special counsel investigation. Here is the legal truth:

There is nothing illegal in American companies doing business in Russia, with Russian citizens, and/or the Russian government.

There is nothing illegal in American political candidates receiving campaign contributions from Russians.

There is nothing illegal in American political candidates colluding with Russians to defeat an opposing American political candidate. The act of “collusion”, meaning “working together”, is not unlawful – unless the parties are colluding to commit a crime, such as bank fraud, identity theft, computer hacking and/or one of hundreds of criminal offenses.

Special Counsel Mueller understands all of this. The man is both highly intelligent and highly experienced.

The massive flaw with the investigation, beyond the fact that it never should have begun, is that it clearly appears that there has no been no credible evidence whatsoever found to demonstrate that Donald Trump and/or any person associated with his campaign colluded to commit a crime with any Russian national.  Given such, the investigation should be terminated immediately, as substantial time has passed with no results corroborating the dubious basis for its launch.

More so, there has only been minimal information regarding Trump campaign personnel dealings with Russians in any matters. If a prosecutor is scratching to find criminal conduct, he may look to lawful dealings to determine if there may have been illicit conduct beneath the legal activity. Such prosecutorial investigations, in layman’s terms, are unfair, but in some cases are permissible. It appears that Mueller has been looking at lawful dealings in an effort to attempt to locate unlawful acts. These lawful acts, according to all publicly available information, have not germinated into any evidence of illegal collusion between Trump and/or Trump staffers and Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election. Given such, at this stage, those who felt they had a good faith rationale for this special prosecutor investigation to occur, must realize that, in the interests of justice, the investigation should be immediately terminated.

Mueller and his team know that the Donald Trump Jr et al meeting with the Russian lawyer did not involve any acts of illegal collusion. They also know that Trump’s purported desire to build a hotel in Russia – and all of the dealings that may have been involved with same – do not amount to any unlawful collusion whatsoever. They, of course, also are well aware of the Carter Page/FISA Warrant debacle, and that there obviously was no illegal activity connected to that matter—except, perhaps, by members of law enforcement. In totality, per their substantial legal acumen and experiences, they must realize that all roads do not lead to Trump and, in fact, none do; they must realize that there is no credible evidence that Trump and/or his campaign staff illegally colluded with Russians to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

A caveat to the above is that media and, therefore, the public, may not know everything that Mueller Special Counsel investigators know. If there is credible evidence of unlawful collusion, the investigation has a just reason to continue. However, per the public information available (which is extensive, if not all-inclusive), it does not appear so. Accordingly, if such is the case, the warrant for Trump Organization documents should not have been issued, and the continuation of the investigation should cease immediately – to relieve taxpayers of this undue economic burden and to relieve America of the frustrating soap opera angst that travels daily with the investigation.

Notwithstanding the specious basis for the special counsel investigation, Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller indeed had the lawful authority to initiate it and carry forward with it. A few ancillary good indictments have flowed from it (the Russian nationals who committed identity theft and bank fraud). And now, they indeed have the authority to end the investigation. And, indeed, that is exactly what they should do.

Kenneth Del Vecchio, ESN publisher and editor-in-chief, is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/entertainment attorney for 23 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases.  Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star 100+ film and TV stars, including several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years-old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.”  A frequent legal and political  analyst on networks such as Fox News Channel, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper. 

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Electricity

IF WE ARE GOING TO SPEND THE MONEY ANYWAY, LET’S SPEND IT TO HARDEN THE ELECTRIC GRID FROM AN EMP (ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE)

By PRINTUS LEBLANC

Earlier this month, conservatives and budget hawks lost the fiscal battle to fund the military without raising domestic spending. The Senate cut a deal to increase domestic spending for the next two years by $131 billion and raise the budget caps on defense spending by $80 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $85 billion in fiscal year 2019.

This battle is over, and it is time to move on to the next one, what to do with the $131 billion. Democrats will want to add the two-year increase in spending to the baseline budget, thereby making the increases permanent. Republicans must make sure that does not happen and if the money is going to be spent, instead appropriate the money to one-time non-baseline budget projects. The weakness of the U.S. electric grid is one such item, the perfect project to spend the money on.

The U.S. is a society wholly dependent on electricity to survive. Water is pumped into your homes by electricity. Vehicles may run on gas, but the gas gets to the vehicles via pump powered by electricity. The food in the local supermarket is kept cool, transported, and produced with electricity. Without it, tens of millions would die.

The U.S. electric grid is composed of three smaller grids, one east of the Rocky Mountains, one west of the Rocky Mountains, and one in Texas. Each of these grids is composed of three elements, power generation, power transmission, and power distribution. It is no secret there are weak points in the system. Congress even put out a report outlining what it believed was the most dangerous scenario in 2008.

Electricity is starts at a power plant. It can be coal fired, natural gas, nuclear, or a windmill. From there the electricity flows to a High-Voltage Transformer (HVT). The HVT will “step-up” the electricity so it can be transported long distances via high voltage power lines. From the high voltage power lines, the electricity flows into another HVT where it is “stepped-down.” This is a critical process because homes and businesses cannot handle the higher-level voltage used to transport electricity. After the electricity flows through the second HVT, it is transmitted via local powerlines to the end user.

As you can see, the process of getting electricity from the point of production to the end user would be impossible without HVTs, and the problem gets worse from there. Producing an HVT is a time consuming and expensive endeavor. The Department of Energy estimated it can take up to 20 months to make the larger HTVs, while costing millions. After it is produced, transporting the HVT is another adventure. The larger devices can weigh up to 400 tons and need specially designed rail cars to move via railroad. Once they are on the road, it can be even more challenging to move the house sized objects though cities to the substations.

The final problem with HVTs is they are made for specific locations in the electric grid. Because the electric grid is made up of hundreds of smaller utilities, within the three main grids, there is no uniformity. An HVT for a coal plant outside of Mobile, AL might not work for natural gas plant near Houston, TX. This hampers the ability to interchange parts during an emergency.

The HVTs are vulnerable to four types of attacks:

  1. EMP- An Electromagnetic Pulse is generated as a result of a nuclear bomb. It is a burst of electromagnetic energy that damages electrical equipment, such as the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems regulating the voltage in HVTs. If the SCADA systems go down, the HVTs go down.
  2. CME- The sun is perhaps the most dangerous adversary of the electric grid. A Coronal Mass Ejection from the Sun would have the same effect as an EMP, but on a global scale. A CME is an ejection of particles from the sun, also known as a solar flare. These happen quite often. The last major CME event to hit the Earth was in 1859. When it hit, there were reports of sparks shooting off telegraph wires in telegraph stations. A CME event today could shut down electronic devices worldwide.
  3. Cyber- As we saw with Stuxnet, SCADA systems are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Attacking the SCADA systems that run the electric grid could cause severe physical damage and shutdown significant portions of the system.
  4. Physical- Since 2013 there have been two attacks on electric substations. One in Metcalf, California and another in rural Utah. In both attacks the HVTs were targeted with rifles and caused temporary shutdowns.

Clearly the electric grid is the most important of the sixteen infrastructure sectors the Department of Homeland Security declared critical. Without electricity the banking system fails, without electricity the healthcare industry becomes non-existent, and without electricity there is no way to pump water to homes and businesses.

The fight about whether or not to spend the money is over, and we lost that fight. The fight now must be about spending it on one-time projects that are not added to the baseline budget in the future. We can choose to spend the money on needed projects, or we can let the bureaucrats make that decision for us. If we’re going to spend the money anyway, Congress should include protecting the electric grid as a one-time project in the upcoming budget as part of the increased domestic spending.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties.  For more information on ALG please visit the website at www.GetLiberty.org.  You can read more articles at www.dailytorch.com.

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claw crane game

WAITING FOR JUSTICE

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

Recently, I represented a client for a motor vehicle violation in one of the many Municipal Courts in New Jersey.  This client looked at the operation of our legal system with the eyes of an outsider.  He observed, “It doesn’t seem fair that the lawyers speak with the prosecutors first.   The notice tells us to be here at a certain time, but nothing is happening.”  I joked that part of the punishment for a violation is the waiting.  I could feel his restlessness.

“Not like the legal shows on television? Municipal Court is not glamorous,” I added.  Then I told him about my days teaching college classes.  One of the courses was called Gender, Race, and Class.  Many of my students expressed their frustration with a system that is rigged to always favor those with power and money.   I compared equal opportunity to an arcade’s claw crane (claw grab machine) game.  The claw is usually too weak to pick-up the prize even if it is in the proper position.  However, sometimes people win.

Back in tedious setting of Municipal Court, the cast of characters:  judges, prosecutors, public defenders, police officers, defendants, attorney, etc. are trying to move the legal process along swiftly and efficiently.  There does seem to be a legitimate striving for equal opportunity and justice in the Municipal Court system.  Nonetheless, many of the defendants with lawyers are processed faster.  Is the price of a lawyer worth a shorter wait time?  Will money always bring you to the front of the line?  Does money and power offer an unfair advantage?

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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Taxpayers

NEW JERSEY: NO COUNTY TAX INCREASE IN BERGEN COUNTY

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco presented to the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders his 2018 budget proposal that contains no county tax increase. Even though Bergen County is the most populous county in New Jersey, it continues to have the second lowest county tax rate.  County Executive Tedesco explained, “Despite what some may say, government should not be run like a business, because government does not exist to turn a profit. Government exists to the serve the people.”  The 2018 budget will fund infrastructure investments and improvements, education, and programs for Bergen County’s veterans, seniors, and children. Furthermore, the budget has been designed to keep full-time county workers earning $15 an hour to adjust to increases in the cost of living.

“By bringing business principles to the management of the county, we are delivering a budget that keeps taxes flat while meeting the needs of the people of Bergen County today and providing the foundation to continue building a better Bergen County for years to come,” stated Tedesco. Under Tedesco’s Administration, Bergen County has received the Moody’s Investors Service’s highest rating because of its strong financial management and future strategic planning.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.
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pic - surveillance octopus

ILLEGAL SURVEILLANCE RESULTING IN HARSH CONSEQUENCES FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT AT ALL LEVELS

By KENNETH DEL VECCHIO

The FISA Memo propounded by Rep. Devin Nunes (R – CA) birthed an awakening of civil liberties violations that had been largely tucked away in an isolated corner of America’s hallowed criminal justice system. Criminal defense lawyers and activists of varied stripes had never relented in the struggle to prohibit the government from its intrusions upon citizens’ constitutional rights. Battles in the courts had persistently raged over unreasonable searches and seizures, illegal wiretapping and other illicit surveillance, and spicy incantations of privacy invasions by law enforcement officers. The public, however, had not heard all that much about it in recent years. And, more so, law enforcement had become emboldened, to a far greater degree than the historical “usual”, to usurp Americans’ civil liberties.

The bad cops were engaging in troubling conduct. And, largely, they had been getting away with it. A secret court, such as the FISA court, allowed the police misconduct to run more rampant in cases that purportedly involved matters of national security and allegedly illegal dealings with foreign governments. The pervasive civil liberties violations in recent years, however, have not been limited to the clandestine FISA Court. These unlawful acts of surveillance have occurred across the board, by law enforcement officials at every level.

But the illegal surveillance was not unknown – nor ignored – by the good guys in the law enforcement business.

What many of the bad guys did not know is this: the good guys have been surveilling them – and their misconduct.

There are two types of illegal wiretapping of phones, home/office/automobile bugging, email and computer hacking, etc. Those where a warrant for the surveillance is actually procured by law enforcement, but it is not grounded in probable cause. And those where no warrant is obtained, and the police are simply surveilling subjects with no judicial supervision at all. The former unsavory conduct is the method that occurred in the Carter Page case (the subject of the FISA Memo). In February, I wrote and published an article in Empire State NewsThe Spies, Secret Courts and Many Dangers Revealed by the FISA Memo – which thoroughly explains the legal shortcomings in the warrant application submitted by the FBI/DOJ in the Page matter and, thus, why the surveillance of Page was unlawful; there was absolutely no probable cause for the warrant. That article further examines whether or not there was criminal conduct perpetrated by any of the parties involved in that particular case.

In a matter where the court has been misled by law enforcement, only those lawbreaking officers will be subject to punishment for purposely and falsely generating probable cause. Where judges are in on the unlawful “findings” of probable cause, they too can face penalties for the civil liberties violations. The cases where law enforcement take it upon themselves to illegally surveil people (without ever even going to a court) obviously only subjects those officers to punishment.

Today’s climate, via the “revelations” from the FISA Memo, has put both illicit police and judges in jeopardy of firings and criminal prosecution. With the cat out of the bag so publicly, the tireless work of the criminal defense lawyers and activists is now being aided by elected officials, media, and the courts and law enforcement themselves. It is true that all of these parties have, in past years, been players in righting the wrongs of constitutional invasions, but now they will be doing it at a higher degree because of the outcry flowing from the FISA Memo.

And this brings us back to the good law enforcement officers who have long been monitoring the bad law enforcement officers. A fundamental reality in law enforcement is that there are competing agencies. Also, within large (and even smaller) agencies, there are people competing with each other. More so, like in every profession, there are good and honest individuals – and there are evil ones. The good ones are watching the bad ones. The bad ones, so often overly-consumed with their power posts, in layman’s terms, get wildly carried away with themselves. They think that the law doesn’t apply to them, they falsely believe that they are immune to prosecution, and they arrogantly believe that they will never get caught. What some don’t know, is that they are already caught—but they may or may not be punished for it.

I am fully aware of – and have been directly told by some of the good guys – that illegal surveillance has been perpetrated by some of the bad guys, in matters quite personal to me.

I have previously stated in another article, “There’s constant secret surveillance going on. One law enforcement agency is doing improper surveillance. I know about it. And so I go to another top law enforcement agency who knows about the illicit surveillance. They tell me that they’re monitoring it and if it gets to a certain level, they will stop those who are engaging in the illicit surveillance, and they will be penalized. Same thing for non-public unlawful investigations that are occurring.”

If the surveillance crosses into a certain level of illegal activity – meaning where any unlawful charges are filed (or the surveillance is persistent) – then the officials involved with the illegal surveillance/unlawful charges will not only lose their jobs, but they themselves will be prosecuted. If that line is not crossed, however, they will not face any punishment. And I can accept that.

In the past, I have been criticized by a few journalists/lawyers/activists for accepting this. I’ve been asked that if I really have a Libertarian-type outlook, how can I accept this? And my response was:

“In these circumstances, I let that top law enforcement agency handle it because, in the end, I will be protected. They have their reasons to jump in when they determine. And if the illicit surveillance and non-public investigations stop, then the issue is remedied. If they don’t stop, eventually they’ll get fired and prosecuted, and I’m protected.”

The truth is that it would cause the good law enforcement officers serious detriment if they came forward when illegal surveillance and illicit investigations are at, what they deem, a lower level. If they out themselves over the “lower level” occurrences, they would compromise their own surveillance of the bad law enforcement officers. And they would suffer other internal conflicts. So, I believe, in the balancing test, justice is preserved by the good guys coming forward – and securing punishment against the bad guys – upon them crossing that line into the “higher level” acts of misconduct (i.e., unlawful charges or persistent illegal surveillance).

So, in my personal matters, I have been – and am – content. If that line is crossed, the arrogant, illicit actors will have the shock of being terminated from their abusive positions of power and thereafter be the ones criminally prosecuted. And if they never cross that certain line, they escape penalty. So be it: it is the will of the good guys, who have conflicting duties – and I have to respect that because they have been gracious enough to alert me of the ill and, more so, ensure my protection (and the punishment of the wrongdoers) if that line is crossed.

And now, with the FISA Memo and the shakeup it has caused, in other matters where the line has been crossed, a more proactive approach will be taken: wherein the proper parties will more often be vindicated—and the improper parties will more often be punished.

Kenneth Del Vecchio, ESN publisher and editor-in-chief, is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/entertainment attorney for 23 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases.  Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star 100+ film and TV stars, including several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years-old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.”  A frequent legal and political  analyst on networks such as Fox News Channel, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper. 

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driving

NJ CARELESS OR UNSAFE DRIVING

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

There is a strategy to Municipal Court plea agreements.  The most common New Jersey motor vehicle offense is Careless Driving, N.J.S.A. 39:4-97, “A person who drives carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property.”  Along with a fine, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJ MVC) adds two (2) points the driving record of someone convicted or who has plead guilty to this charge.

Instead, Unsafe Driving, N.J.S.A. 39: 97.2, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, it shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate a motor vehicle in any unsafe manner likely to endanger a person or property,” has zero (0) points attached for the first violation.  However, four (4) points will be assessed for the third (3) or subsequent violation(s) within a five (5) year period.

NJ MVC automatically deducts 3 points each year that there are no other violations or suspensions.  Additionally, two (2) points can be removed from a New Jersey driving record by taking an approved defensive driving course.  Finally, it is important to understand that use of a point reduction via a NJ defensive driving course can only be used once every five (5) years.

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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flag

TRUMP, SESSIONS TAKE CRITICAL STAND AGAINST CALIFORNIA’S NEW NULLIFICATION OF FEDERAL IMMIGRATION LAW

By ROBERT ROMANO

“Immigration law is the province of the federal government. This Administration and this Justice Department are determined to make it work effectively for the people. I understand that we have a wide variety of political opinions out there on immigration. But the law is in the books and its purpose is clear. There is no nullification. There is no secession. Federal law is ‘the supreme law of the land.’ I would invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.”

That was Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressing the California Peace Officers’ Association on March 7, making it clear in no uncertain terms that California’s new “law” which makes it illegal for local law enforcement to assist federal officials in detaining illegal immigrants will not stand.

Under Sessions, the Justice Department is suing in federal court to overturn the California policy that prevents police from complying with detainer requests by federal immigration authorities.

It’s the new nullification, an unconstitutional attempt by states and cities to claim a “right” not to follow federal law.

And, warns Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning, it is utterly dangerous. “The time of sanctuary states and cities is over. We either have laws or we have anarchy,” Manning said.

“The central presumption that the Constitution rests on is the Supremacy Clause, that the Constitution and all laws made pursuant to it are the supreme law of the land. State laws must conform to the federal in cases where the federal government has constitutional authority. It is Congress, not the states, that have the power to make the nation’s immigration laws, and states cannot constitutionally undertake an enterprise to defeat those laws,” Manning added.

Following the law is not optional, Manning declared, suggesting, “This isn’t even a grey area. It’s explicitly in the Constitution. This case tests the very premise that we can have a national union, a Constitution and a uniform rule of law, or if we will have 50 sets of rules.”

In the pre-Civil War era, there were many attempts by states to repeal or nullify federal laws that they disagreed with.

In 1832, President Andrew Jackson outlined the correct reading on nullification in his Proclamation to the People of South Carolina, a response to South Carolina’s attempt to nullify tariffs enacted by Congress, leaving no ambiguity, “I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.”

Indeed, what other federal laws could states abolish that they disagree with, if following immigration law is optional? Could also states start printing their own money? Declaring their own wars? Providing and maintaining their own navies? Opting out of paying taxes?

It truly is a slippery slope. And if we’re not careful, it could spill out into other areas — taking the rule of law with it.

Meaning, the U.S. could be precipitously close to the same crisis that consumed the nation in 1861, when secession by the South in the Civil War very much tested whether the Constitution would be a lasting proposition.

The suit against California’s nullification of immigration law is an important move by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump to restore the rule of law before it is too late to turn back, and they are to be commended.

At the end of the day, we are a nation of laws. And we either have a country or we don’t.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties. For more information on ALG please visit the website at www.GetLiberty.org.

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