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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at the New York Law School, February 6, 2018 U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at the New York Law School, February 6, 2018

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently granted certification in State v. Bennie Anderson (No. 84,365), in which the court will consider whether forfeiture of a public employee’s entire pension for accepting a $300 bribe implicates the Excessive Fines clauses of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Paragraph 12 of the New Jersey Constitution, and if so, what factors the courts should consider in assessing whether pension forfeiture is “excessive.”

Mr. Anderson had been employed by Jersey City for nearly 40 years, earning a fully vested pension that entitled him to payments of $60,173.67 per year. While employed in the tax assessor’s office, he regrettably accepted a $300 bribe from a property owner to switch the tax description of his property from a two-unit to three-unit dwelling, a change that normally requires approval from the zoning board. Anderson was federally charged and pled guilty to a single count of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). He was sentenced to a two-year probationary term, with five months of home confinement, and fined $3,000.

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