Ethics Expert Disagrees
John Bennett. Photo credit: Rhoda Chodosh
Monmouth County Republican Chairman John O. Bennett said that a State Supreme Court Opinion written in 2000 by Justice Daniel J. O’Hern that states that the positions of Borough Attorney and Borough Administrator may not be held by the same person does not apply to his job in Oceanport.
In re ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON PROFESSIONAL ETHICS, DOCKET NO. 18-98, the Court ruled 5-2, to affirm an ACPE opinion that Gregory C. Hart could not serve the Bergen County Borough of Old Tappan as both attorney and administrator.
We respect the wishes of the Borough to engage for its day to day management an attorney in whom it has reposed great trust and confidence. Likewise, we respect the attorney who is certain that his integrity would assure an unfettered exercise of judgment in either capacity. Yet we must fashion a rule that will apply equally as well in more demanding circumstances, as in a fast-growing suburban community. It asks too much for an individual to be able to give objective advice to the municipality without being materially limited by the “lawyer’s own interest” as the subject of the inquiry.
For these reasons, we hold that one attorney may not hold both the position of municipal attorney and clerk-administrator for the same municipality. As modified, the advisory opinion of the ACPE is affirmed.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, Bennett said he became aware of the Opinion after his appointment as Acting Administrator in Oceanport earlier this month, but that he did not believe it would prevent him from holding both positions on a permanent basis.
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Posted: November 21st, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: John Bennett, Monmouth County, Oceanport | Tags: Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, Borough Administrator, Borough Attorney, John Bennett, John O. Bennett, Justice Daniel J. O'Hern, Michael J. Mahon, NJ Supreme Court, Oceanport, Paula A. Franzese, Seton Hall University | 6 Comments »
Governor Christie’s press office just issued the following statement:
“Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”
Today’s decision requiring the state to officiate same-sex marriages was made by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson sitting in Mercer County. In order for the Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality the issue, Jacobson’s ruling will have to be appealed.
Posted: September 27th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Gay Marriage, marriage, Marriage Equality, NJ Supreme Court | Tags: Gay Marriage, NJ Judiciary, NJ Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage | 3 Comments »
Transcript from statement read at the Dec. 5, 2012 Oceanport Borough Council meeting by Councilman Joseph Irace:
Oceanport Councilman Joe Irace
Tonight we are being “asked” under court order, to approve an affordable housing plan for the Borough of Oceanport for COAH Round 2. The entire debate on Affordable Housing is one that I have trouble understanding intellectually, socially and fiscally. While we all embrace the idea of lower priced homes, where newly married couples and our aging population can remain in our town for now and years to come, I have a hard time accepting the fact that the Courts, and not our legislature, have the ability to mandate how many homes and the type of homes that a municipality must provide. This is especially troublesome to me because the rest of the town bears the tax burden of this unfunded judicial mandate.
This COAH legislation and the resulting judicial decisions have been a social planning experiment gone awry from the very beginning. The confusing and often contradictory laws and court rulings arising from Rounds 1 and 2 of COAH have led to the Borough being sued for lack of compliance and have cost our residents hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. The entire system is broken and needs to be fixed.
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Posted: September 27th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: COAH, Joe Irace, NJ Judiciary, NJ State Legislature | Tags: COAH, Joe Irace, NJ Legislature, NJ Supreme Court, Oceanport | No Comments »
Thursday’s New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that struck down the state’s most recent affordable housing regulations also sent the Council on Affordable Housing back to the drawing board. The decision gives the council five months to come up with…
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Posted: September 27th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: COAH, New Jersey, News, NJ Courts, NJ Judiciary, NJ Supreme Court, NJNewsCommons | Tags: Affordable House, COAH, NJ Supreme Court, RePost | No Comments »
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Posted: September 26th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: New Jersey, News, NJ Courts, NJ Judiciary, NJ Supreme Court, NJNewsCommons, RePost | Tags: Affordable Housing, COAH, Mt Laurel Decision, news, NJ Supreme Court | 3 Comments »
Justice Helen E. Hoens. photo via NJ Courts website
Governor Christie announced the nomination of Judge Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina to replace Justice Helen Hoens on the State Supreme Court during a press conference at the State House this afternoon.
Hoens, who was up for reappointment after seven years, will not be re-nominated, Christie said, because State Senator Ray Lesniak, a senior Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently said that Hoens would not be reconfirmed as political retribution for Christie not re-nominating Justice John Wallace in 2010. Christie said that Hoens took the news as a professional and thanked him for not putting her through an arduous and fruitless re-confirmation hearing. Hoen’s term expires in late October.
There are currently two vacancies, of seven positions, on the State Supreme Court. Christie nominated Monmouth County Judge David F. Bauman and Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna to fill those vacancies in December of last year. The Democratically controlled State Senate has not acted on their nominations, despite the fact that both men have been previously confirmed by the Senate for their current positions.
If all three of Christie’s current nominees are confirmed, a majority of the Court, 4 Justices, will be Christie appointees. Justice Anne M. Patterson was nominated by Christie in May of 2010. She was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in 19 months later in September of 2011.
Judge Fernandez-Vina, a Cuban-American and a Republican, was first nominated to the Superior Court in Camden County by Governor Jim McGreevey in 2004. He was re-nominated by Christie an reconfirmed by the Senate in 2011. In 2012, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, a Corzine appointee, named Fernandez-Vina the Assignment Judge of the Camden County Vicinage.
Posted: August 12th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, NJ Courts, NJ Judiciary, NJ Supreme Court | Tags: Chris Christie, Judge David Bauman, Judge Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina, Justice Helen Hoens, NJ Supreme Court, Robert Hanna, Senator Ray Lesniak | 2 Comments »
The Special Senate Primaries will go forward on August 13 and New Jersey will elect a new U.S. Senator in a Special Election on October 16.
The New Jersey Supreme Court effectively upheld the Appellate Division’s ruling that Governor Christie acted legally in calling for the Special Election yesterday when they declined to hear an appeal of the lower Court’s ruling.
The Special Election had been challenged by Marie Corfield, Joe Grillo and Joseph Danielson. Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer was their attorney.
Corfield is a Democratic Assembly candidate from the 16th district (Hunterdon, Middlesex, Mercer and Somerset counties). She lost a special Assembly election to Republican Donna Simon last November. Corfield first came into the public eye when the YouTube video of her exchange with Christie at a 2010 Town Hall meeting went viral.
Grillo is the Executive Director of the Monmouth County Democratic Organization. Danielson is the Chairman of the Franklin Township (Somerset County) Democratic Committee.
The Appellate Division’s ruling can be found here.
Posted: June 21st, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: 2013 Election, NJ Supreme Court, Primary Election, Senate Special Election | Tags: Joe Grillo, Joseph Danielson, Marie Corfield, NJ Supreme Court, Special Senate Election | 1 Comment »
Photo credit: Scarcini, Hollenbeck
Former Monmouth County Sheriff Joe Oxley’s nomination to the Superior Court was confirmed by the State Senate this afternoon after having been unanimously approved by the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee earlier in the day.
Four of the other nominees confirmed today will be joining Oxley on the Monmouth County bench. Angela White Dalton of Howell, a former Township Councilwoman, Katie A. Gummer of Rumson, Arnold L. Natali, Jr of Little Silver and Mara E. Zazzali-Hogan of Shrewsbury are each expected to be confirmed by the Senate today. Zazzali-Hogan is the daughter of former NJ Chief Justice James R. Zazzali. Zazzali was Chief Justice for seven months, October 2006 until his mandatory retirement in June of 2007, after being nominated for the top post by Governor Corzine. He became an Associate Justice in June of 2000.
Monmouth County Assignment Judge Lawrence M. Lawson told MMM last December that the Court has been operating with six vacancies. Kathy Sheedy of Cream Ridge was nominated by Governor Christie on Monday to fill the final vacancy.
Lawson was not available when MMM called this afternoon to ask what the assignments will be for the new judges.
Monmouth County Senators Jennifer Beck and Joe Kyrillos issued the following statement praising the New Jersey Senate’s confirmation of five Monmouth County residents to be judges of the Superior Court:
“Monmouth County, like counties across the state, has had a number of judicial vacancies that have caused backlogs in our court system. We are pleased that the New Jersey Senate has finally taken action to confirm qualified nominees. By filling judicial vacancies, we can ensure that all kinds of legal proceedings, from criminal trials to divorce proceedings, can be heard in court in a timely manner.”
UPDATE and CORRECTION 2/8/13
Judge Lawson told MMM this afternoon that despite his Monmouth County residence, Natali will be assigned to the Middlesex County Vicinage. If Sheedy is confirmed by the Senate, the Monmouth Court will still have a vacancy.
A second vacancy will occur if Judge David F. Bauman is confirmed as an Associate Justice of the State Supreme Court. Bauman and Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna were nominated to the Supreme Court by Governor Christie on December 10, 2012. Senate President Steve Sweeney said this week that he wouldn’t be rushed into holding confirmation hearings for the two Supreme Court nominations.
Lawson said that the new Monmouth Judges will be assigned in either Family Court or Civil Court. He has yet to determine who will be assigned where.
Posted: February 7th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Joe Oxley, Monmouth County Court | Tags: Angela White Dalton, Arnold L. Natali Jr, Chief Justice James R. Zazzali, Governor Chris Christie, Joe Oxley, Judge David F. Bauman, Judge Lawrence M. Lawson, Katie A Gummer, Mara E. Zazzali-Hogan, Middlesex County Vicinage, NJ Supreme Court, Seante President Steve Sweeney | 6 Comments »
State Senator Ronald Rice (D-Newark) is not satisifed that Governor Christie’s nomination of an Asian American to the State Supreme Court represents the racial diversity of New Jersey.
That the nominee, Judge David F. Bauman, the presiding Judge of the Monmouth County Court’s Civil Division, is a former U.S. Marine like Rice, did not satisfy the senator. “That doesn’t carry the weight a good African American would. Even in the Marines we had race riots during Vietnam,” said Rice according to PolitickerNJ.
Rice said that diversity in this state should always include African Americans, Latinos, and women.
Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) also said that race would be a factor as he considers Christie’s nominees, Bauman and BPU President Robert Hanna. Lesniak said that he wants to be highly confident that the nominees would use their independent judgement in interpreting the law and that they “will not be caught looking
Posted: December 10th, 2012 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: NJ State Legislature, NJ Supreme Court | Tags: David Bauman, NJ Supreme Court, Ray Lesniak, Robert Hanna, Ronald Rice | 4 Comments »