In his Oct. 25 “Between The Lines” opinion piece, Al Sullivan reported that Hudson County Assignment Judge Peter Barisa, Jr. refused to allow cameras into the jury room when the Oct. 11 Hudson County Board of Freeholders meeting changed its venue to accommodate a larger than normal audience. This interest in the proceedings of the board was prompted by the ill-advised vote to renew the county’s 287(g) contract agreement with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for housing undocumented immigrants in the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny.
Considering the importance of this issue, and the ramifications locally and nationally, Judge Bariso’s action amounts to an obstruction of freedom of the press. He cited “security concerns” as the reason for his decision, but – as Mr. Sullivan commented – cameras have been allowed in that very jury room for ceremonial events. Those other events don’t compromise security, but this one does? It boggles the mind!
It seems Judge Bariso is playing favorites at the public’s expense and their right to be informed by a ruling in this way. He should see that, indeed, this particular meeting had “significant public interest and was a public meeting,” and therefore should have granted cameras access. His actions only underscore the perception that Hudson County is still under the chokehold of a closed political machine, bent on having its way. Public opinion be damned!
Hudson County Green Party