Those interested in the actions of the Woolwich Township Gloucester County) police may wish to read pages 2 through 9 of U.S. District Court Judge Joseph E. Irenas' April 3, 2012 opinion in the civil case of Terence Jones v. Sean Dalton, et al, Civil Action No. 09-138.
At issue was Woolwich police officer Michael Schaeffer's February 4, 2007 motor vehicle stop of Terrence Jones, a former Philadelphia police officer who is African American. According to the opinion, Schaeffer was extremely antagonistic toward Jones and conducted a fruitless, warrantless search of Jones' vehicle despite Jones' refusal to consent to a search. After Jones filed an Internal Affairs complaint against Schaeffer, the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office (GCPO), without interviewing Schaeffer, filed criminal charges against Jones for giving false information to police. The charges were brought against Jones after the GCPO's investigator, Captain John Porter, "meticulously compared the [Motor Vehicle Recording of Schaeffer's traffic stop of Jones] to Jones' letters and decided to charge the victim [i.e. Jones] despite clear violations of police procedure and the Constitution." Opinion, Page 10. Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton authorized the criminal charges. (Id, Page 9)
After Porter testified that Jones' Internal Affairs complaint contained falsehoods, a Gloucester County Grand Jury indicated Jones. After Jones' criminal trial, Superior Court Judge Christine M. Allen-Jackson found that the GCPO's prosecution of this matter was "unbelievable" and "incredible . . . to think that you can take this complaint and present it to the Grand Jury the way the State did." (Id, Page 11) Jones was acquitted on all counts and initiated a civil lawsuit against Woolwich Police and GCPO officials.
Judge Irenas' opinion came in response to the government's motions for summary judgment. Judge Irenas refused to grant judgment in favor of Officer Schaeffer on most of the counts of the complaint. Judge Irenas did, however, dismiss Jones' complaint against Porter and Dalton. Irenas held that Dalton was absolutely immune from any actions he took because prosecutors, when deciding whether or not to bring criminal charges, cannot be sued even where the prosecutor acts without a good faith belief that any wrongdoing has occurred. (Id, Page 20)
Porter was also granted immunity against Jones' claims that he offered false testimony to the Grand Jury, which resulted in the charges being filed against Jones. Irenas, citing to the United States Supreme Court's 2012 ruling in Rehberg v. Paulk, found that Porter, as a witness in a Grand Jury proceeding, was absolutely immune from suit and that immunity would stand even if Jones could prove that Porter's testimony was false. (Id, Page 22)
In sum, Jones' suit is still pending against Officer Schaeffer on most of the counts and has been dismissed in its entirety against Dalton, Porter and the other defendants.