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Petitioning New Jersey State Senate

Pedals the Bear didn’t have to die -- End the Bear Hunt

Pedals was a black bear that had adapted to having two injured front paws by walking upright. He was thriving and healthy. He was a beloved icon in New Jersey. He was never a threat or a nuisance. On the contrary, the sight of Pedals would fill people with awe, wonder and joy. NJ residents are heartbroken over his cruel demise at the hands of a bow hunter. It was the first such hunt in 4 decades -- We want it to be the last.  Pedals' killer should not be allowed to hunt bears any more. But we shouldn't stop there. The tragedy shows we should get rid of the hunt altogether in New Jersey. The New Jersey Legislature is considering ending the bear hunt, and we need your support to make sure they do. Pedals was a gentle animal with a handicap that was cruelly and inhumanely killed. And Pedals wasn’t just a bear to the community, he was seen as a member of the community. So many feel strongly the hunter should never be able to hunt again after such an egregious act. Unfortunately, such cruelty is deemed legal by the state. That is why we must end the bear hunt in New Jersey.  Pedals is not a unique case. The black bears of New Jersey don’t need to be hunted down. They need to be protected. The only way to do that is to end the hunt.

Jackie Murtha
125,830 supporters
Petitioning Donald Norcross 2

Require 911 Direct Dial in NJ Hotels, Schools and Businesses

On December 1, 2013 a tragic event took place when Kari Rene Hunt was murdered in Marshall, Texas. The murder took place in a hotel room at the Baymont Inn and Suites. One of the most tragic elements of this horrible event is the fact that the attack on Ms. Hunt was witnessed by her children. Seeing her mother in grave danger, Kari’s eldest, age 9,  did exactly as she had been instructed to do--she grabbed the telephone in the hotel room, and dialed 9-1-1, yet no one answered that desperate call for help. In fact, she dialed 9-1-1 a total of 4 times, and each call was met with what she described as ‘static’. The National Emergency Number Association, representing more than 7000 members dedicated to saving lives, promotes the simple concept of “One Number, Any Device, Anywhere.”  This phrase, however, is far more than a tagline. The fact is that while this instructional message is accurate with personal communications devices like mobile phones and our home landlines, this is not always the case for telephones serviced by multiline telephone systems (MLTS/PBX), such as those that exist in hotels, hospitals, schools and many other large commercial buildings. Multiline systems often require a special access code (in most cases a dialed “9”) that is necessary for the caller to reach an outside line. Because of the need for the extra digit to be dialed, in many cases, an individual who is situated “behind” an MLTS/PBX is required to dial 9 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency, and may not be aware that the extra digit is necessary, especially when in a panicked state. According to the Hunt family, this is precisely what happened in Marshall, Texas in December 2013. There are three simple steps, if addressed from a legislation perspective that will go a long way to remediate this problem to ensure that the number of tragedies such as the one that took the life of Kari Hunt will be significantly diminished if not entirely eliminated. 9-1-1 dialing from any telephone device, without the need for an access code While dialing an access code (such as 9-9-1-1) should also be recognized, a requirement should be in place so that the dialed digits of 9-1-1 are recognized and properly routed to emergency services.  Immediate routing to 9-1-1 The interception of a 9-1-1 call event, and local answering by non-certified and/or untrained on-site personnel has become a dangerous and alarming trend. This practice jeopardizes the safety of callers with emergencies by allowing untrained individuals to answer emergency calls. This delays the response by trained and appropriate public safety officials at a point in time where seconds count in an emergency. This sub-optimal practice must be curtailed and rectified.  On-site notification or alerting that an emergency call has been initiated Access to large buildings and facilities can be complicated. Internally- trained responders can be of great assistance to public safety officials in an emergency. On-site notification can ensure those in-house personnel that "need to know" have the appropriate information to both expedite an internal response and be prepared for first responders when they arrive at the building. The cost of technology is NOT the issue. In fact, the lack of technology is NOT the issue. It has been clearly proven time and time again that it is simply the awareness and legislative requirement that is missing from most states laws, including New Jersey.  THEREFORE, In the absence of regulatory action and guidance from the Federal Communications Commission, and given the critical need for decisive direction for MLTS owners and operators, this petition asks the State of New Jersey  to move forward as expeditiously as possible with the adoption of legislation requiring access to 9-1-1 on MLTS PBX systems, both with and without an access code, a method of on-site alerting or notification when a 9-1-1 call is placed, and the direct termination, without interception or interference of the call to the designated 9-1-1 center serving that MLTS PBX, under the designation of Kari’s Law in memory and honor of Kari Renee Hunt (February 9, 1982 – December 1, 2013).  

Mark Fletcher, ENP
58,518 supporters
Petitioning Donald Trump, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Veterans Affairs, Alabama State Senate, Alabama State House, Alabama Governor, Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Flo...

Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members reunite with their families

I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy Veteran, who served for 10 years mostly in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand, that I first encountered Amerasian children (and descendants) of U.S. sailors and military contractors previously stationed overseas. In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. Many Amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. sailors who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to reunite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. Service members. Today, all John wants is to  be reunited with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to reunite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2016 creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to reconnect with their own children.  John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently reunite with her dad. You can find them in the Amerasian group pages on Facebook. Search angel services are available to both sides.There is a PBS documentary called "Left by the Ship" (2010), the video above, documenting everyday life and their personal struggles as a Filipino Amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggle to connect to their American military fathers, to bridge the gap between the past and the present. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2016 now!

Jenifer Bass
33,039 supporters
Petitioning Senator Loretta Weinberg, Assemblyman David W. Wolfe, Dr. Ian Driben, Jonathan Eisenmenger, Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson, New Jersey State House, New Jersey State Sena...

Protect New Jersey's Dogs and Cats with Jack's Law

Jack's Law would help save the lives of more than 500,000 dogs and cats in New Jersey by restricting the responsibilities of recent veterinary school graduates and require interns to be supervised — in person — by experienced veterinarians, especially in critical care situations. It would also require veterinary hospitals be transparent and honest to consumers about exactly who treats the animals left in their care.  Currently there are no laws in New Jersey prohibiting a recent veterinary school graduate from being the sole medical provider in a hospital setting — even in a critical care unit. In New Jersey, an intern works under a veterinarian’s license. However, the licensed veterinarian is not required to be present when the intern is working, or to personally supervise him or her. When we take our dogs and cats to veterinary hospitals, we should be able to trust that the people caring for our loved ones are experienced professionals. Eighteen months ago, I lost my incredibly loved and irreplaceable collie, Jack. Jack died in Red Bank Veterinary Hospital (RBVH) as the result of being left overnight in the Critical Care Unit under the unsupervised care of an inexperienced and incompetent intern.  It was only after Jack died that I learned that the sole medical provider caring for him in the CCU had just graduated from veterinary school two months earlier and had only been working as a "veterinarian" for less than two weeks. In fact, she had not even passed the state exam or received a license from the state. Jack died because the intern who was supposed to be taking care of him wasn't paying attention or because of her inexperience, she just didn't know how to help him. For nearly 13 years I kept Jack healthy, happy and strong despite the fact that he was born with a megaesophagus which required continual observation and care. All of that was destroyed with one lie, one intern and one irreversible mistake. In short, Jack had a feeding tube surgically inserted into his abdomen at RBVH. This was to be a temporary measure to help him recover from a serious bout of esophagitis. The surgery was deemed a success. Both the surgeon and admitting veterinarian were so pleased with his progress that they told my husband and me that we could take him home the next morning. In fact, when we saw Jack twice that afternoon, he was alert and coherent. He immediately recognized us and kissed my face. His temperature and breathing were normal. Jack looked so well, we went home—confident that he was being cared for properly and professionally. But by 9 p.m., while under the unsupervised care of the intern, Jack aspirated. By morning, Jack's condition had dramatically deteriorated. He had a raging fever and needed oxygen to breathe. Instead of bringing him home, we buried Jack alongside  his brother in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, the very next day.  For most of us who share our lives with dogs and/or cats, our four legged friends are much more than pets—they are members of our family. We love them, care for them and do our very best to protect them. That's the only reason we went to RBVH. It was supposed to provide exemplary surgical and post-operative care. What makes Jack's death even more devastating is the fact that it was completely avoidable. When I told the admitting veterinarian how concerned I was about leaving him in the care of an inexperienced vet tech, she promised to put him in the CCU where he would be kept under the constant, careful supervision of a veterinarian. Had I known that the "veterinarian" had just graduated two months earlier and had only been practicing as a vet for two weeks, I never would have left him there. Unbelievably, there's nothing to prevent what happened to Jack from happening again. While there are no statistics to quote, I called all the emergency hospitals listed on the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association's website and most of them hire interns. Who knows how many unsupervised interns have made similar critical mistakes.  Jack was an incredible soul. He made everyone around him feel happy and loved. He was intelligent, funny and beautiful. He was so much more than that. I am heartbroken and will miss him forever. It is unforgivable that Jack died because I wasn't told the truth. It would be unconscionable to allow others to die simply because nothing was done to change that awful truth. I hope that with your help, we can save other families and their beloved dogs and cats from similar heartache. Please do not let Jack's death be in vain. Thank you very, very much.    

barbara tunick
24,081 supporters
Petitioning New Jersey State House, New Jersey State Senate, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, Chris Christie

"Autumn's Law" - Hold Abusive/Neglectful Parents Partially Accountable

My daughter, Autumn Pasquale was a typical all-American 12-year-old girl.  Autumn loved BMX bike riding, skateboarding, playing soccer, cheerleading and art.  She possessed so much promise for a bright future. She was a straight “A” student, was accepted into the gifted & talented program at her middle school and was involved in many extracurricular activities. She was the light of my life.  But on October 20 2012 all that ended.  Forever.  And so did Autumn’s life. Why? I truly believe it is because Autumn believed all children were well-adjusted and innocent, just like her. On that fateful day, Autumn was lured to the home of acquaintances/brothers 15-year-old Justin Robinson and 17 year-old Dante Robinson under the pretense that one or both boys wanted to trade bike parts with her.  My innocent daughter left my home that Saturday afternoon NEVER TO RETURN.  Prior to this event, I did not know the Robinson family.  Watch Media confirm Autumn’s was lured to trade bike parts here: Watch Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton’s statement regarding the arrests/charges that were initially filed against the Robinson brothers here: It took several law enforcement agencies two harrowing days to find my Autumn and when they did, it was a scene from a horror film.  Autumn had been beaten, strangled to death and stuffed in a trashcan. Justin Robinson later accepted a plea deal and received a 17-year prison sentence.  He could be out of prison as early as his 30th birthday…possibly before. His brother Dante was freed. The reason for the plea deal and Dante’s release came as a result of a lack of DNA evidence.  *****I BELIEVE THAT MINOR CHILDREN ARE RARELY IF EVER BORN MURDERERS.  MOST ARE CULTIVATED  AND IN AUTUMN’S CASE, I BELIEVE HER MURDERER WAS NO EXCEPTION.  HERE ARE A FEW OF THE FACTS TO PROVE THAT CLAIM*****   Justin Robinson suffered from a neurodevelopmental disorder.  This was confirmed by Robinson’s own attorney and stated in open court during his sentencing hearing. At Robinson’s sentencing hearing his own attorney stated in open court that his actions against Autumn were a “learned behavior.” She added that Robinson had witnessed his own father choke his mother (possibly on more than one occasion).  These parents, knowing their child(ren) already had serious mental disorders, exposed them to violence in the home. It is no coincidence that my daughter’s cause of death was strangulation.  The most influential person in Robinson’s life, his same sex parent, taught him that. Various neighbors of Robinson’s gave statements to the media indicating they were aware that Robinson brothers were known to engage in criminal activity and were “always in trouble.”  In fact, their own father admitted to the media that his boys were known for stealing bikes.  A Clear sign of lack of respect for authority and the law. In May 2017, a now 21 year old Dante Robinson is charged with a home invasion:    See admissions from community members and Robinson’s father here:   One of my best friends witnessed Justin Robinson running from police and pulling off his hat and shirt while in stride (presumably to disguise his appearance) just days before he murdered my daughter. At the time of Autumn’s murder, Robinson’s biological father, Alonzo Robinson admitted to the media that he had not seen his sons for a year (and possibly up to 7 years).  Alonzo Robinson completely abandoned his parental responsibilities, all while knowing his sons suffered from serious mental disorders and were known to engage in crimes.  Police told Mr. Robinson they found bike parts stockpiled in the basement of the Robinson’s home. Robinson told reporters one of the boys had been previously charged with theft.  See Alonzo Robinson’s admissions here:   6.   Autumn was murdered in the home in which the Robinson boys resided with their mother Anita Robinson. The home is approximately800 square feet in size. Investigators believe Autumn’s time of death to be approximately 3:30 p.m..  They also believe Autumn’s body was not moved to the trash can until late that Saturday night or early Sunday morning.  Yet Anita Robinson had no idea a murder took place in her home and that my child’s body and all of her belongings including her bike were laying in her home for several hours.              See prosecutor’s statement regarding investigator’s timeline here:   Justin Robinson was not only able to murder my child in his home, but was able to clean up her murder scene, tamper with evidence, hide all the evidence, hide Autumn’s body and all of her belongings including her BMX bike and move her dead body (while rigor mortis had to have set in) to a trash can. Again Anita Robinson saw and heard nothing.    Parents/guardians who neglect, abuse, abandon or ignore the warning signs of their children’s propensity toward violence are direct contributors to their minor children’s murders. If the minor who murdered my daughter was properly treated, parented, disciplined and supervised my daughter would probably be alive today.    Accordingly, I and everyone who signs this petition are asking for consideration of “Autumn’s Law.” A law that would make abusive and/or neglectful parents/guardians who have custody of their children CRIMINALLY responsible for murders committed by their minor children, when they know or should have known the propensity toward violence existed.    When a parent/guardian knows or should have known that their child may pose a threat to third persons, it is the parents/guardian’s responsibility to minimize that risk.  A child’s issues are not the responsibility of his/her school, state, teacher, counselor, law enforcement, community, neighbors or church, but instead, the primary responsibility of the child’s parents/guardians.    When the parents/guardians of a minor murderer are proven to have failed in their parental responsibilities by ignoring warning signs, failing to treat their children’s mental/emotional/behavioral issues and by fail to ensure proper supervision of their child, the parents/guardians actions/lack of actions becomes a contributing factor to the loss of life and lifelong devastation inflicted on their victims and their victims’ families. As such, they should be held criminally responsible.    WE ARE ASKING OUR GOVERNOR & STATE LEGISLATORS TO CONSIDER “AUTUMN’S LAW.” A LAW THAT WOULD MAKE NEGLECTFUL AND/OR ABUSIVE PARENTS/GUARDIANS WHO FAIL TO TREAT, CONTROL AND SUPERVISE THEIR MINOR  CHILDREN, HELD CRIMINALLY RESPONSIBLE WHEN THEIR CHILDREN MURDER      Thank you, Anthony Pasquale          

Anthony Pasquale
16,321 supporters
Petitioning Chris Christie

Stop DuPont Chemical from Poisoning New Jersey Families

From 1902 to 1994, the DuPont Chemical company dumped chemicals into New Jersey’s Pompton Lakes. While the company abandoned the explosives site years ago, it has yet to clean up the mess it left behind. The closed work site is still owned by DuPont.For decades, families like mine have been suffering from the toxic pollution left in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey by DuPont Chemical. Hundreds of families suffer from poisonous gases in the soil that migrate up into our basements. The air we breathe inside our homes is filled with cancer-causing TCE, and the full extent of all this pollution in our community is still not fully understood.DuPont Chemical, the company responsible for this pollution, has had years to clean up their mess--but they have failed. It's time the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) declare Pompton Lakes a Superfund site and take over the clean-up once and for all. Two years ago, the New Jersey Department of Human Health and Senior Services released a shocking report with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It found a "significantly elevated" cancer rate in the region potentially linked to contamination from the Pompton Lakes DuPont explosives site. DuPont Chemical has proposed a five-year cleanup plan--but that plan will not make our community safe. DuPont's plan does not address the high levels of mercury, lead, and other toxic chemicals that they left in our creeks and lakes.It’s clear that DuPont doesn’t care about the Pompton Lakes community, so it’s up to the USEPA to take a stand and protect our health. The USEPA must list this site on the federal Superfund National Priorities list. Cleanup cannot be left in the hands of DuPont Chemical.

Lisa Riggiola
13,331 supporters
Petitioning Chris Christie, Chris Smith, New Jersey State House, New Jersey State Senate

Install Surveillance Video/Audio Cameras in All Special Education Classrooms in NJ Schools!!

Children with Developmental Disabilities often have many difficult behavioral issues. Families rely on Teachers and School staff to provide a safe and caring environment for their children. Many of these children suffer from elopement, aggressive, self injurious, impulsive, defiant, hyperactive and sensory disorders and behaviors. Control of these behaviors is extremely difficult for the child. These children are prone to accidental injuries and mistreatment by others who simply cannot handle the effects of these challenges. Many Teachers and Staff persons are trained to manage these behaviors as best as possible. Many are not. When a child, especially those who cannot speak or communicate, suffers an injury, parents are left relying on others explanation of what happened with their child. Leaving a parent with no other option. NJ schools have many great teachers and staff! However, we also have those who are not so great! Not having a criminal background, does not exclude the possibility of the person having a poor level of tolerance, patience and emotional wellbeing when faced with these challenging behaviors. Everyone is human, and that includes teachers and staff. Not only will it help ensure that our children are safe and properly treated, but it will also encourage teachers and staff to do what they are supposed to do! Teachers and Staff will know that carelessness, mistreatment and not following protocols will be on surveillance video and their careers will be at stake. If Teachers and Staff are doing everything they are obliged to do, then they should not feel threatened by being under surveillance! Those who oppose it or feel threatened by it, are the ones who raise concern to families! In the defense of Teachers and Staff it too will help protect them against false allegations! We strongly believe the likelihood of incident occurances regarding carelessness, mistreatment and violations of protocols with our children will greatly decrease or possibily diminish with surveillance in place! We believe our schools and children will greater improve with survelliance! Not only will it deter those whom are not emotionally and/or mentally equipped to work with our children from becoming employed by our schools, but by doing so will likely fill our NJ schools with those who ARE! There are many legal cases in our State and Nation where incidents could have either been prevented or caught in its stage of initial occurance instead of after long term repeat occurances. NJ has the HIGHEST rate of Autism in the NATION! So many parents deserve to KNOW (not be told) that their children are in safe and caring hands while getting the proper education they deserve!

Michelle Joana
10,697 supporters
Petitioning New Jersey State House, New Jersey Governor, New Jersey State Senate, Chris Christie, Chris Smith, Jennifer Beck, Mike Rogers, President of the United States

Casey's Law in the State of New Jersey

  The law allows the parents, relatives, or friends of an addicted person to lawfully intervene and request involuntary, court-ordered addiction treatment for their addicted loved one. I started this petition because I felt as though it was necessary. A little more than 4 years ago I lost my brother to an addiction and I can't lose another loved one to this horrible disease. We need more awareness about this disease and we need more power to help our loved ones when they are too far gone in their disease to realize how sick they really are. Their addiction takes over their brain and their body. Sometimes they just can't fight it by themselves anymore. I am starting this petition because I want to be able to help another loved one before it's too late. I feel so helpless in the fact that there is nothing I can do because in the state of NJ the law states unless they are a harm to themselves or someone else there is nothing anyone can do .. this needs to change because this person so close to my heart is a danger to themselves and others but refuses treatment so continues to live everyday the same ... with the addiction.  Please sign and share! Thank you! ❤️

Katie Cassady
9,512 supporters
Petitioning Robert Casey


  On Thursday, April 21, 2016, 16-year-old Honor Student Amy Joyner-Francis was violently attacked by several other students inside of a bathroom at the Howard High School of Technology in Wilmington Delaware. This young student subsequently died after this violent attack. The violent attack was allegedly recorded on cell phone video and allegedly disseminated on social media. These types of violent acts are becoming far too frequent, and the glorification of these types of violent acts are becoming the new norm. I am making the following proposaIs: 1. I propose that local, state or federal legislation be passed to identify and prosecute those individuals who video violent attacks against other persons with the intent to display these senseless, violent and gratuitous acts of violence on social media; 2. I propose, that any individual who records these violent acts and who fails to intercede (summoning help) or act as reasonably as to contacting authorities be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as an accessory to the violent act in which they are recording; 3. I propose, that the individual recording such violent acts be given reasonable time (within 12 hours of the incident) to turn such recordings over to the proper law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the location of the incident or be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as an accessory to the act; 4. I propose, that individuals who video these violent attacks be prosecuted to the full extent of the law as accessories to the act, if these recordings are uploaded to any social media platform with the intent to circulate and redistribute, prior to the notification of the proper law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the location of the incident; 5. I propose, that any social media entity which allows the uploading of these senseless, violent and gratuitous recorded acts make attempts to identify the location of these acts and forward such recording to the proper law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the location of the incident or any other local, state or federal law enforcement entity which can further investigate these acts; 6. I propose, that any social media entity which allows the uploading of these senseless, violent and gratuitous recorded acts be financially sanctioned for every day that these videos/recordings are displayed on their social media sites without making an attempt to identify the location and notification of proper law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the location of the incident or any other local, state or federal law enforcement entity which can further investigate these acts; 7. I propose, that any social media entity which allows the uploading of these senseless, violent and gratuitous recorded acts be held financially liable for damages to the victim of these violent acts if the social media entity makes no attempt to identify the location and notification of proper law enforcement entity with jurisdiction over the location of the incident or any other local, state or federal law enforcement entity which can further investigate these acts. Social media entities which allow the uploading of these types of videos/recording are in essence glorifying these types of violent acts. I believe that holding these social media entities accountable, financially and from a social responsibility perspective will eliminate the medium for these types of acts to be displayed and viewed. These sanctions will hopefully reduce the supply and demand for these senseless, violent and gratuitous acts. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of 16-year-old Amy Joyner-Francis, and I pray that governmental interventions such as those that I have proposed will end the glorification of these senseless and tragic, violent acts. Please stand with me and forward this petition to as many people as you can so we can save the lives of our children and change their mindset on violence. J.D. Josey IIPhiladelphia, PA

J D Josey II
9,439 supporters
Petitioning Chris Christie, Stephen Sweeney, Dawn Addiego, Diane Allen, Peter Barnes, Christopher Bateman, James Beach, Jennifer Beck, Anthony Bucco, Gerald Cardinale, Richard Codey, Christopher Connors, Nilsa...

Stop Rule 534 from destroying Mental Health Professional-Client Confidentiality

New Privilege Rule 534 decimates mental health provider-client confidentiality and effectively nullifies the strong confidentiality protections enacted by NJ Legislators and Governors over the past 4 decades. It goes into effect on July 1st and will create bad national precedent. Rule 534 potentially exposes mental health clients to having their deepest, sometimes shameful secrets, routinely exposed through lawyers’ discovery requests and will require therapists to testify in open court in new, unprecedented ways. Rule 534 will greatly increase the number of subpoenas and discovery requests served on mental health providers and facilities. It penalizes and permanently strips confidentiality when clients that ask their providers to advocate in any proceeding. Rule 534 will automatically go into effect on July 1, 2016 unless the Legislature and Governor take immediate action. Text of the Rule can be found at  Rule 534 will apply to all mental health-related communications between clients and their licensed counselors, alcohol and drug counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and doctors, nurses, psychoanalysts, physician assistants, marriage and family therapists, and midwives, the vast majority of which are totally unaware of the contents or import of Rule 534. Rule 534 will deter people from seeking mental health or addiction treatment or from confiding in their current treatment providers. Rule 534 creates a complex scheme containing 13 exceptions to mental health provider-client confidentiality. Its four pages of legalese will confound therapists’ ability to obtain their clients’ informed consent for treatment. The Rule 534 confidentiality exceptions will undermine mental health providers' ability to establish therapeutic trust and chill mental health providers' ethical obligations to advocate on behalf of their clients. Rule 534 was praised by lawyers and condemned by mental health providers. In written testimony to the NJ Supreme Court, Professional Mental Health Counselors and Clinical Social Workers uniformly condemned Rule 534: "would 'compromise client confidentiality' and deter people from going to social workers;" "if a therapist told a patient all of the legally required exceptions, the patient would terminate the counseling session;" "would discourage mental health treatment;" "creates a 'confusing array of additional exceptions that are not currently in place;'" "will be interpreted 'very loosely' so as to allow confidential information to be disclosed;" and, ""it will create more lawsuits." One of the most egregious provisions causes a client to lose confidentiality for all time if the client asks the provider to provide written or oral testimony in any proceeding, such as an unemployment, benefits, child protection, or disability proceeding. Clients will lose all confidentiality protection in a civil suit for damages that resulted from conduct that constitutes a crime. This will chill, for example, people with gambling, drug, or alcohol addictions, that have stolen from their employers, families, stores, or other third parties, from seeking mental health help to curb their dysfunctional behaviors. Clients may also lose confidentiality if they have ever told a third, non-spouse, party about their mental health condition or treatment. The beneficiaries of Rule 534 will be the lawyers who will be able to obtain adverse parties’ mental health information and use that mental health information in settlement negotiations or in courtroom trials. Please share this petition with friends, family, professional and consumer organizations, and anyone else that has an interest in promoting access to confidential mental health and drug and alcohol treatment. Advocate for health clients and mental health professionals by contacting your NJ State Senator’s, NJ State Representative’s, and Governor Christie’s offices.

John MacDonald, JD, MA, NCC, LAC
8,939 supporters