Five women whose divorce cases were heard by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon are petitioning the New Jersey General Assembly to impeach the Judge they say violated their rights of due process and equal protection.
WABC-NY first reported the story of the impeachment petition.
Under the New Jersey Constitution, the General Assembly has the sole power to impeach judges by majority vote of the members. Should a judge be impeached by the Assembly, a trial is held in the Senate. A conviction and removal from office requires the vote of two-thirds of the Senate members.
Patricia Madison aka Patricia Pisciotti, Rachel Alintoff, Tameka Hunt, Paula Diaz Antonopoulos Wolfe, and Kristen Williams are represented by Robert A. Tandy, Esq., a Woodcliff Lake civil rights and employment attorney.
The women argue that they have no recourse against Escandon, other than impeachment and removal from office, for violating their civil rights due to the broad immunities granted Judges. They make the following allegations in their petition:
Thursday is the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington and his landmark “I have a dream” speech. Yesterday, thousands of people descended to Washington to commemorate the historic event and celebrate the progress we have made toward racial equality.
Tomorrow is the 42nd annual Women’s Equality Day, a designation created by a Joint Resolution of Congress in 1971 at the behest of Congresswoman Bella Abzug of New York to commemorate the ratification of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920.
GoTopless.org seeks to make a woman’s right to go topless part of the American Dream. Since 2007, when their spiritual leader Rael founded the organization, GoTopless has held an International GoTopless Day on the Sunday closest to August 26. That’s today this year. GoTopless is holding rallies in 51 cities around the world. In many of those cities, and in most states in the United States, going topless is already legal, according to the organization’s own map.
Today in New York City, where the right to go topless was degreed by a Court decision in 1996 and reaffirmed in 2007 when Phoenix Feeley won a $29,000 Judgment against the City for her wrongful 2005 arrest for going topless, Go Topless advocates are marching from Bryant Park to Times Square and back. Street vendors should stock up on sunscreen and hydrocortisone.
Here in New Jersey, Feeley’s recent efforts fell, umm, flat. She got herself arrested for going topless, twice in the same day, in Spring Lake in 2008, fought her conviction of violating Spring Lake’s anti-nudity ordinance up to the NJ Supreme Court and lost. Rather than pay her $816 fine, Feeley went to Monmouth County Jail and staged a hunger strike. A GoTopless organized protest drew two fully clothed women. Feeley was released early and healthy.
At the March on Washington celebration yesterday, women kept their tops on.
My name is Nadine Gary, and I’m writing to you on behalf of GoTopless (www.gotopless.org), a U.S. women’s group devoted to obtaining our constitutional right to go topless in public wherever men have that right.
During Asbury Park’s Night Out last week, you were asked by reporter Art Gallagher about GoTopless activist Phoenix Feeley, who is currently into Day 8 of the hunger strike she has begun as an inmate at the Monmouth County Jail. This brave woman has not only gone to jail, serving a 16 day sentence but stopped eating to protest discriminatory topless laws in New Jersey.
Ms. Feeley went through the N.J. court system to fight for her constitutional rights and she is now appealing her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. We hope it will rule on this important gender equality issue that until now has been neglected at the federal level.
The New York City Police Department has reminded its 34,000 officers than women appearing in public “simply exposing their breasts” have committed no crime, according to a report in The New York Times.
New York’s highest court decided in 1992 the law which prohibited females exposing their breasts below the top of the areola violated the equal protection clauses of the Federal and New York Constitutions. The equal protection clause is part of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Topless advocate Moira Johston says that baring breasts is a human rights issue and a health issue. She says public toplessness would reduce the incidents of breast cancer. (Warning, the link features Johnston speaking topless, which is considered nude in New Jersey, but not in New York.)
New Jersey’s courts have taken a different view of female public toplessness.
In September of 2011 the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court upheld a Spring Lake Borough ordinance that considers female toplessness lewd and indecent. Affirming a 2001 case, the Court ruled that there is no constitutional right for women to appear topless in public and that and restrictions on the exposure of the female breast are supported by the important governmental interest in safeguarding the public’s moral sensibilities.
As the summer season approaches, female beach goers and roadside rallyers are advised to keep their tops on in New Jersey.