Two weeks ago, an order was entered in Superior Court for Bergen County in the case entitled: In the Matter of Elie C. Jones. Jones has been in the Teaneck news cycle over the past two years as he filed hundreds of public records requests to Teaneck, entered multiple civil rights complaints against the Teaneck police, accused the township clerk of assault, and was eventually sued by Teaneck to stop the flood of public records requests.
Join the discussion at Teaneck Today’s Facebook Group
The Township has maintained that Jones has been abusive and his complaints are without merit.
The Court now concludes:
Suffice it to say, Jones’ actions patently demonstrate a willful desire to abuse the judicial process and absorb precious state and judicial resources. His use of the judicial system is intended to spite others, and to punish anyone, including court staff who do not act as he directs: This is not the intended purpose of the judiciary and his actions are intolerable. (emphasis added) (page 29)
The order, shown below is about 40 pages with another 50 pages of exhibits.
Here are the highlights:
- Any civilian complaints filed by Jones since 1/1/18 are dismissed (unless a probable cause determination has already been made)
- Jones is prohibited from filing any “criminal, quasi-criminal, civil or municipal code violation complaint” in any court in the State of New Jersey without prior approval of a Judge.
- Clerks in the Superior and Municipal Courts are directed to refuse any complaint for filing from Jones unless and until he gets approval from a Judge.
- Jones is banned from even entering a Courthouse unless he has a hearing scheduled.
- Jones’ request for the Judge in his case to recuse herself is denied
- Jones’ request for the Trial Court Administrator to be removed as his liaison is denied.
As mentioned in the order, Jones is a “self-represented litigant” who files a lot of cases. Jones has filed suit against “various Township of Teaneck employees, police officers, councilmembers and residents. Jones has also filed civilian criminal complaints against employees of the New Jersey Judiciary including: Hon. Bonnie J. Mizdol, A.J.S.C., Hon. Robert P. Contillo, P.J.Ch.; Hon. Peter J. Melchionne, P.J.F.P.; and Trial Court Administrator Laura Simoldoni (“TCA Simoldoni”), all of the Bergen Vicinage.” (page 3)
As an illustrative example, on 3/5/18, “Teaneck Police Officer Harold Clark issued Jones a parking ticket for parking in a “council members only” parking space. Illustrative of Jones’ pattern of retaliatory filings, between March 14, 2018, and March 15, 2018, he filed 13 civilian criminal complaints against Police Officer Clark alleging 26 statutory violations.” Of the 13, the 7 that had probable cause hearings resulted in 6 dismissals and one that is ongoing.
Jones’ conduct has led to massive delays in municipal work, based in large part on the considerable amount of resources necessary to defend against his actions.
Teaneck is a body politic of the State of New Jersey, accountable to township taxpayers. Each and every time Jones files a complaint against a township employee or official, the township council appoints legal counsel to defend the employee against Jones’ excessive and unfounded complaints. These complaints have a deleterious effect on the judicial system and the public interest by absorbing a considerable amount of judicial and municipal resources. The escalating nature of the complaints threaten the economic well-being of the Township, the efficiency of the Teaneck Municipal Court and its conflict court, Bergen’s Vicinage II Municipal Court and further serves to disrupt operations of all. (emphasis added)(page 12)
The cases stem from domestic violence actions initiated by Jones against his sister, Alston. Here’s what the Judge hearing those actions had to say back in March:
In discussing Jones and Alston’s use of the judicial system Hon. Peter J. Melchionne, P.J.F.P., stated:
Credibility of both parties, you say whatever comes to your mind. Neither supports statements or allegations with evidence they can rely upon. I have little confidence in either of your truthfulness or veracity for the truth. The parties engage in extreme gamesmanship with the judiciary system, and their calling for witnesses without due regard for the people. They wish to inconvenience all for their own self-gain and not to assist this court in rendering a decision. They each use the judicial system, not for its intended purpose. (emphasis added in original) (page 10)
Here’s how the Judge opined on the behavior of Jones:
It is clear that the way… [Jones and Alston] conduct [themselves] to each other is less than model. You conduct yourselves similarly to anyone you encounter, particularly here at the courthouse. The minute a staff member may not provide you what you asked for, or looks at you funny, or asks you to wait, your conduct becomes less than appropriate. Similarly, that’s how you treat each other. The behavior you exhibit in the courtroom in front of me and at me and at the Sheriff’s officers here is deplorable. When I enter an unfavorable ruling, I become the target of being biased, racist, I’m accused of pre-judging the case. (emphasis added)(page 10)
Jones was appointed an attorney to act as his liaison, after an incident that “involved Jones pounding his fist against the Chancery Division customer service glass window and his use of profanity. (Simoldoni letter, March 2, 2018). The liaison’s “expanded role was necessitated by continued rude behavior, which included screaming, use of profanity to staff as well as the filing of criminal complaints against staff. Complaints by Jones against TCA Simoldoni and Family Division Team Leader, Tracy Andolini sent to the AOC have been investigated and found to lack merit.” (page 13)
Jones was relentless in filing complaints and disrupting the functions of the Townships and Courts he encountered. Here’s how the Court put his actions:
The moment Jones comes into contact with a civil servant who does not do what he wants the minute he wants it, a tirade ensues and all are declared biased, racist, and prejudicial. The same is true of the judiciary. His obstructionist techniques cause justice to be delayed for countless others who have legitimate controversies to bring before the court. By way of example, on June 28, 2018, Jones, while before Hon. Anthony N. Gallina, P.J.M.C., threatened more filings against Teaneck’s Health Officer Ken Katter stating:
[Katter] had an obligation to enforce the health codes and he did not. There’s continuing things going on today. We’ll probably be right back here in a month or so; I’m going to file new complaints and there will be additional evidence forthcoming and proofs. And additional paperwork. You want paperwork? I’ll bring it, and lots of it. So, I’m here today to advise Ken Katter, you failed to do your job and you continue to fail to do your job. And as you continue to fail to do your job these charges will be continued. (page 29)
Will this be the end of Jones harassing Teaneck officials, residents, courts and others?
Jones also stated “[i]f I cannot seek judicial action in way of criminal complaints as the procedure [sic] I will have to resort to alternative means of justice and resolving crimes committed by the defendants by any means necessary as brother Malcom [sic] X once truly stated. Peace be unto him.” (emphasis added) (page 31)
That remains to be seen.
Here are the stats on Jones’ filings, as of June 26, 2018:
- 668 Open Public Records Act (OPRA) Requests between 1/1/15 and 6/27/18.
- 78 Municipal Court OPRA requests (65 in Teaneck)
- 214 civilian criminal complaints since 2016
- 201 were filed in 2018 (115 since the issuance of the Order to Show Cause on 4/6/18, which this decision was based on)
- 66 Cases have been adjudicated.
- 54 have been dismissed (either lack of probable cause or voluntarily by Jones)
- 12 were found to have the requisite probably cause
- 2 of these were dismissed voluntarily by Jones
- 8 await trial
- 1 resulted in a not guilty
- 1 resulted in a guilty finding
Thank you to Dan Levy, Esq. of Raff & Raff, LLP for his help obtaining records.