N.J. Court: Rap Lyrics Introduced at Trial Were Prejudicial

The New Jersey State Supreme Court ruled yesterday that rap lyrics introduced at a defendant’s murder trial were prejudicial and should not have been allowed into evidence. The N.J. Supreme Court upheld an appellate court’s ruling that reversed the conviction.

The case stems from the November 8, 2005, shooting of Lamont Peterson. Peterson was hit seven times in the back, torso and head, and told police on the way to the hospital that Vonte Skinner shot him. While searching Skinner’s car, police found several notebooks of rap lyrics — many of which included violent themes. The lyrics were read at Skinner’s first trial, which ended in a mistrial when the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.

The defense objected to the introduction of the lyrics before Skinner’s retrial, but a court again ruled them admissible. Skinner’s rap handle was apparently Real Threat; he has a “Threat” tattoo. “At the second trial, a detective testifying for the State read extensively from defendant’s lyrics to the jury,” the Supreme Court wrote in its opinion. “The trial transcript of that uninterrupted reading stretches thirteen pages. The material was replete with expletives and included graphic depictions of violence, bloodshed, death, maiming, and dismemberment.”

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Federal Officials Blame Conrail for Train Derailment

Image via NTSB

Image via NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board met today to release its report on a train derailment almost two years ago in New Jersey. The blame was placed squarely on Conrail. The NTSB says the train was allowed to attempt to cross the Paulsboro bridge despite a red light showing the rail slide locks were not engaged.

The train was allowed to proceed because Conrail was “relying on a training and qualification program that did not prepare the train crew to examine the bridge lock system,” according to the report. The NTSB also faulted the emergency response to the derailment, which caused a cloud of vinyl chloride to be released into the air. The report says state and local officials, along with Conrail, did not properly prepare first responders for the incident.

An earlier NTSB report said much of Paulsboro was sickened by the release of the dangerous petrochemical.

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The Garden State Parkway-Boardwalk Pizza Suit Is the Dumbest Lawsuit New Jersey Has Ever Filed

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The author at Boardwalk Pizza.

In 2009, a friend and I were driving from Key West to Fort Lauderdale. The night before had been a long one (is there any other kind of night in Key West? Especially on your last night of vacation?) so we were looking for a greasy lunch.

“STOP!” I cried when I saw a green and yellow circular sign on the side of the road. “We’re eating here.”

That place was Jersey Boardwalk Pizza, which is now being sued by the state of N.J. [read the full suit]. because of their logo has the same shape and color scheme as the Garden State Parkway emblem.

This is ridiculous. How ridiculous? As ridiculous as saying Flying Fish promotes drunk driving with their Exit Beer series. As ridiculous as AAA not being able to service cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, Atlantic City Expressway or Garden State Parkway. As ridiculous as only having six bathrooms for women in what replaced the Oceanview Service Area rest stop.

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For Sale: Home in Lizzy Haddon Neighborhood Has Dodge Ball Court

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The Lizzy Haddon neighborhood in Haddonfield is named after Elizabeth Haddon, the town’s co-foundress (her father bought the land in the late 1600s, but sent her to claim it when she was just twenty years old) known for her commitment to the flourishing community.

Haddon is said to have served as a clerk during women’s meetings for close to fifty years, while also being a pillar of charity for the poor and sick. Her public persona today is tied up with that generous image along with a notable frankness that is interlaced just right in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Elizabeth,” a poem depicting Haddon’s good deeds and her proposal to John Eustaugh.

Neighborhood history aside, here’s the house info:

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Trans Activist Andrea Bowen Named Executive Director of Garden State Equality

andrea andy bowen

Garden State Equality’s new Executive Director Andrea “Andy” Bowen.

New Jersey’s Equality PA equivalent Garden State Equality (GSE) made history this week when it named Andrea “Andy” Bowen executive director. The position makes Bowen the nation’s first openly transgender executive director of a statewide organization for LGBT civil rights.

Bowen comes to GSE from Washington D.C., where she worked as the social policy organizer with the D.C. Trans Coalition, and policy expert for the National Center for Transgender Equality. In these roles she played an integral part in getting key legislation passed for the LGBT community, including a bill that allows transgender people to change their birth certificates and names, and she helped spearhead a movement that ensured D.C. health insurance policies covered many trans-specific health care needs.

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N.J. Sues Fla. Pizza Shop Over Garden State Parkway-Like Logo

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New Jersey has sued a Florida pizza shop for misappropriating the Garden State Parkway logo for its own pizza-related logo. Let’s get to the best sentence in the lawsuit now: “Over the years, many third parties have attempted to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with Plaintiff’s Garden State Parkway Logo and Plaintiff has actively and successfully policed against infringing third-party uses of its mark.” Notorious G.S.P.!

The state has filed a lawsuit against Jersey Boardwalk Pizza, claiming its Garden State Parkway knockoff logo — and a similar mark used for franchising — is attempting to piggyback off the “fame” of the Parkway and could confuse customers into thinking the Parkway is running the pizza shop. (Wouldn’t that be bad for the business? That new rest stop barely has any bathroom stalls!)

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South Philly Smells Like Cat Pee, And It’s New Jersey’s Fault

Last week, the Passyunk Post wondered where the pervasive cat urine smell in South Philly was coming from. There had been numerous anecdotal reports of it for a while now, but the smell was reported too widely to be from cats (or raccoons).

The South Philadelphia readers of Albert Stumm’s site had plenty of ideas in the comments: dog parks, chemtrails, refineries, drunks urinating in the streets, meth labs, sewers and even cats after all.

We may have an answer, and the “refinery” guess in the comments pretty much nailed it: The smell is likely from a New Jersey power plant.

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Princeton Professor Charged with Stealing 21 Lawn Signs

Princeton professor John Mulvey is facing theft charges for allegedly stealing 21 signs for a computer repair business from private lawns in the town. Ted Horodynsky — the owner of the Princeton Computer Repairs, Tutoring and Digital Services — had set up a surveillance camera on a lawn. Horodynsky says he turned the video over to police.

Horodynsky says the signs started to disappear after he had a traffic indicent with Mulvey. He set up a camera that caught part of Mulvey’s license plate during one of the five thefts captured on video, which led police to find 21 of Horodynsky’s signs in Mulvey’s garage.

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N.J. Takes Out ‘Bridge Loan’ to Cover Expenses, Again

The same day New Jersey’s new $32.1 billion budget went into effect, the state took out a short term bridge loan worth $2.6 billion from J.P. Morgan. Without it, the state wouldn’t have been able to meet its expenses.

This is actually a common occurrence. The loan was $2.6 billion in 2006; in 2011 it was $2.25 billion. The state has been taking out extra money for more than two decades now, but the process of doing it at the start of the fiscal year dates back just to Jon Corzine. “There are climbing imbalances between receipts of funds and disbursement of funds, which has led the state to have a [type of] short term borrowing…  since 1991,” Chris Santarelli, a Treasury spokesman, told The Star-Ledger.

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World War II Vet Puts Up Billboard Asking for Sandy Relief

An 88-year-old Brigantine man has put up a billboard in his backyard asking for Superstorm Sandy relief, saying that almost two years on he still doesn’t have enough funds to fully repair his house.

B.J. Byrnes also put a giant toilet on top of the billboard because that’s the only thing that could be salvaged from the first floor after the late October 2012 storm.

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