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Slanderous Fugitive Label Leads to Lawsuit

April 24, 2015 | Posted In Criminal Law - Criminal Law

The son of a New Jersey judge has filed a lawsuit against the city of East Orange, New Jersey, for allegedly falsely categorizing him as a fugitive in the state’s criminal database, causing him undue prosecution and legal trouble as a result.

Kyle Hollar-Gregory, whose mother is Superior Court Judge Michelle Hollar-Gregory, stated that he was arrested and thrown in jail because East Orange allegedly never removed him from their criminal database as a fugitive. The incident was a serious inconvenience, the lawsuit alleges, and it jeopardized Hollar-Gregory’s opportunity to serve as a judicial clerk for U.S. District Judge Jose Linares of the District of New Jersey.

How Did This Happen?

In January of 2012, Hollar-Gregory was charged with simple assault in East Orange. The case was moved from East Orange Municipal Court to Hudson County’s Bayonne, New Jersey Municipal Court because Hollar-Gregory’s mother is a judge in Essex County where East Orange is located. In March of that year, the case was dismissed and the charges against Hollar-Gregory were dropped.

However, East Orange never updated their records and Hollar-Gregory’s lawsuit claims that the county was “recklessly and willfully…maintained a duplicate of the complaint in the statewide criminal records database, as if the complaint had not been transferred,” and labeled Hollar-Gregory as an “absconder and bail-jumper.” East Orange also issued a warrant for his arrest.

In October of 2012, Hollar-Gregory was pulled over and during the stop, the officer discovered the outstanding warrant. He arrested Hollar-Gregory and booked him in the Essex County Jail.

Hollar-Gregory’s lawsuit states that while there, he was subject to a body cavity search and fingerprinting, and he was given a prison jumpsuit and placed with the other inmates. Once he was released, East Orange told him that they had removed him from their database and noted the dismissal of charges; but, this was not the case, according to the lawsuit.

Career Repercussions

Because East Orange never removed the fugitive status, Hollar-Gregory endured more than just jail time—his career plans had to be put on hold while the issue was resolved. He had been offered a clerkship in 2013, but the offer was temporarily rescinded when the database records continued to show Hollar-Gregory as a fugitive with pending charges.

Later, he was able to take the job, but the break in employment and negative associations in his initial hiring period caused serious problems, according to lawsuit documents.

In his suit, Hollar-Gregory accused East Orange of violating his civil rights and causing intentional and negligent emotional distress.  He is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief. He claimed that the ordeal left him with “permanent mental and emotional suffering.”

Protect Your Reputation

A false accusation or a mishandled criminal investigation can leave you open to discrimination for years to come, even if you have done nothing wrong. Your reputation can be tarnished and a criminal proceeding can be a lengthy and expensive process to clear your name.

If you have been falsely accused of criminal activity, or improperly entered into a criminal database, contact an attorney at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, a leading New Jersey criminal law firm. We will help you clear your good name and hold those who have falsely accused or slandered you accountable for any repercussions.  

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