Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Council Refuses Mayor's Nomination of New Judge

City Council again refused to consent to the Mayor's appointment of attorney Dan Roberts by a vote of 6 to 5.   The Mayor indicated that Roberts was willing to serve as Municipal attorney for $75,000 without benefits.  The current Judge makes a hefty $122,000, plus $17,000 in benefits.   While NJ statute requires that a municipal judge must be an attorney, a member of the bar and have five years experience as an attorney, Council cites Roberts' lack of experience either as a prosecutor or public defender.  Regardless, the Mayor should just submit another candidate. 

No one on Council indicated any concerns about the recent troubling report that Judge DiLeo allegedly over-stepped his judicial authority in a recent case.  See latest here   From that article:

"The state agrees that the procedures used in the municipal court violated (the) defendants’ due process rights," Assistant Prosecutor Sara Liebman wrote to Superior Court Judge Scott Moynihan, who is scheduled to hear Rubas’ appeal next month."

A motion was made to add a second judge, possibly on a per diem basis and possibly an African-American judge.  What wasn't discussed was that adding more court hours would not only require another judge, but a prosecutor and public defender.

There were many remarks regarding the revenue the Court brings in.  Raising revenue is not the role of  a courtroom and to view it as such is troubling.

When questioned on the controversy now swirling around the election of Council President (see here for background), Councilman Peter Brown stated that he was only questioning the process because he simply likes to question things. 

Councilman Brown also stated that he and the finance/personnel committee terminated the Mayor's secretary.  The Mayor corrected this by stating that it was the Mayor himself who terminated P. Howe.  The Mayor went on to state that rather than hire a new secretary, he will be utilizing a long-time employee from the finance department even though some members of Council gave him a hard time.  Who could object to that and why?

On a positive note, the Mayor indicated that, unlike the Corzine administration, the Christie administration is very accessible.  He further went on to say the Lt. Governor returned a phone call he had placed to her within five minutes and that he currently has two meetings scheduled with representatives from the State.

It was announced here will be a budget committee meeting on March 3 @ 7:00 p.m. in council chambers and the public is invited to attend to offer ideas.  There is currently a $7 million projected budget deficit.  

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Anonymous said...

This time the mayor should have given the name of a lawyer with court experience. It would have been fun to watch council scrambling for reasons to block it. More research?

Anonymous said...

The Mayor had names of sitting judges according to what I am told. He said it himself, He is looking to bring diversity to the city. Why then must he appoint his campaign manager and maybe get an african american judge for 40K less? Why won't Roberts take the associate position and learn the court?

Why did he "fire" as he said his best friends wife? Now he is complaining that he had a hard time taking a 25 yr administrative person from 1 department to work in his while still being held accountable for her exisiting duties in that department as well as doiing a critical function of EEOC officer for the entire city?
If the mayor does not get his way he starts complaining and pointing fingers. He is just as bad a what he campaigned against in 2006.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 9:18 PM


NFS said...

I don't think being a prosecutor is necessary stepping stone to becoming a Judge because both roles are VASTLY different. However, when this first came up I agreed that by the Mayor selecting Roberts, who was his campaign manager, it reeked of cronyism. By insisting on Roberts, Gerbounka is contradicting himself and it does no one any good. A simple solution would have been to submit the name of someone who already had municipal judge experience to satisfy Council's self-imposed requirements.

Why do we have appointments? If I remember correcting, the idea was to have a professional serve the community for a few years and go back to private practice. I don't think it was ever the intent of appointments to become permanent jobs, which, in some cases, is what they've become over the years.

As far as the lady who offered to take on the additional duties of the Mayor's secretary, I would imagine she feels that she is competent enough to do so. If it turns out that the workload is too burdensome, I'm sure the issue/position can be re-visited. Gerbounka has another full-time assistant. How hard can it be?

Anonymous said...

How embarrassing for Linden that their incompetent Council voted to keep on a man who showed a clear lack of judgement...and who now may cost Linden dearly in cases being caused to be re-opened.

What are those council people thinking?? Obviously, it is Dem politics at work AGAIN in Linden.... Shame on you all!! Those of you who play that Dem game and gave up their moral values and voted to keep the status quo for "pay back" and/or pure politics.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Linden's Judge debacle made the NJ Law Journal. Congratulations.