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No Lift for ‘Weedman’ The string of courtroom victories this year by Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion ended last Monday when a judge ruled that he cannot recover damages for having been wrongfully imprisoned for advocating the legalization of marijuana while in the Intensive Supervision Program. U.S. District Judge Joseph Irenas, who released Forchion from jail in January, restated last week that it was an unconstitutional infringement of the jailhouse lawyer’s free speech when ISP officers arrested him. But Irenas found that the state officials had qualified immunity from suit because there was no clear prohibition on arresting those serving out drug convictions on ISP if they advocate drug law reform. Previously this year, Forchion bested the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office when the Appellate Division ruled that Forchion might be able to change his name to “NJWeedman.com.” And the U.S. Attorney’s Office has quietly let drop charges that Forchion was creating a disturbance outside Newark’s federal building in a pro-pot protest. Lastly, with Forchion now a free man, his challenge against ISP for attempting to obtain his DNA is moot. However, as the state — in theory — still wants a sample from every convicted felon, one does not need a crystal bong to predict that the chances of Forchion re-raising the issue against the attorney general in the future are good. When Small Worlds Collide Gloucester and Camden counties are neighbors, so when the Gloucester bar slated a Feb. 28 dinner to honor John Wallace Jr.‘s elevation to the Supreme Court, it asked the Camden bar to publicize the event in its February newsletter. Camden declined, as the event was on the same night as its own art-auction fund-raiser. It might have ended there, but instead, the Gloucester bar supplied some publicity of its own. In its March newsletter, Gloucester’s State Bar trustee, John Eastlack Jr., wrote that the Camden bar’s position was “simply baffling,” adding that he had attended previous art auctions and they didn’t attract many members. Gloucester bar president Augusta Pistilli wrote that she had contemplated joining the Camden County Bar but that the newsletter episode prompted her to rip up her application. The Camden bar’s executive director, Jeffrey Alderman, is standing by the decision to spike the Gloucester announcement. He sent e-mails to members last Friday, pointing out the need to consider the feelings of the hard-working art-auction committee and sinsisting that no disservice to Justice Wallace was intended. “Certainly, Justice Wallace knows how much we care for him,” Alderman wrote. “To characterize otherwise is just plain wrong.” Battle of the Forms The judiciary’s effort to standardize municipal court practice still has a few wrinkles to be worked out, as recently came to light in a Hunterdon County town. The Readington court treated citizen-initiated complaints differently from those by law enforcement. At least some citizen complaints were processed on an affidavit of probable cause — not on the complaint-summons form approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts. So complaints were not docketed in the statewide database, unless probable cause was found. Last September, Howard Schoen, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Somerset and Middlesex counties, complained of a double standard — especially as concerns complaints of police misconduct. Not docketing citizen complaints meant that “if a police officer is continually being charged with using excessive force, there is no way to connect the incidents,” he said. Some complaints “were going into a black hole.” Readington has since mended its ways. At a Feb. 20 meeting of municipal judges for Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren counties, Presiding Judge Robert Pollock Jr. emphasized the need to stick with the state form. He says he will address the issue tonight at a meeting of the state’s 15 presiding municipal judges. Sibling Rivalry An apparent absence of brotherly love has put Kenneth Price in jeopardy of disbarment. A unanimous Disciplinary Review Board recommended that the former Passaic solo practitioner’s license be lifted for misappropriation of at least $21,499 from an estate he and his sister inherited from their father, Arthur, in 1995. As executor, Price was supposed to arrange a 50-50 split of the estate, which he estimated to be worth about $130,000. He sent a $50,000 initial distribution to his sister, Patricia Sherman. But after no more money was forthcoming and he refused to provide a full accounting, she filed an ethics grievance. The Office of Attorney Ethics and special master Arthur Minuskin, a retired Superior Court judge, put a $200,000 estimate on the estate. Whatever the right figure, the board said in a Feb. 23 opinion, it was clear that Price failed to tell his sister about assets from two bank accounts. He told investigators that his sister didn’t need as much money as he did because she was wealthy and that his errors were caused by severe depression. Price, never before disciplined in 30 years as a lawyer, is not listed in the New Jersey Lawyers Diary and Manual and could not be reached for comment. – By Jim Edwards, Charles Toutant, Mary P. Gallagher and Henry Gottlieb

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