This brief piece appeared in the Sunday Star-Ledger's Auditor:
Sunday, 7/2/12 - The Auditor
Reading the fine print
The embattled mayor of Plainfield, Sharon Robinson-Briggs, claimed a legal victory of sorts last week, though not everyone agrees.
Robinson-Briggs said a state Superior Court judge in Elizabeth ruled that the city council violated her rights to due process when it fined her $200 for staging an anti-violence rally that cost the town $20,000.
“I am pleased that the Hon. Judge (Karen) Cassidy recognized the fact that the city council violated my rights,” she said.
The Auditor was worried that it had missed the trial. But as it turns out, the answer is no.
A lawyer for the city council, which the mayor is suing over the fine, had made a routine motion to dismiss, but Cassidy denied it.
“It says it was ‘up for question,’ ” Sandra Thaler-Gerber, a spokeswoman for Superior Court in Union County, said of the judge’s denial.
But city spokesman Terry West sent an e-mail noting the council rescinded the fine based on Cassidy’s comments. West wrote: “It is clear that the city council had no legal basis to impose the fine based on Judge Cassidy’s ruling. In coming to her decision, Judge Cassidy made rulings of law.”
Council members say Robinson-Briggs simply drew the wrong conclusion. Rebecca Williams said: “The mayor has consistently referred to the lawsuit she instituted against the city council as an ‘appeal,’ which demonstrates a basic lack of legal understanding — especially since she states that she has been previously employed as a paralegal.”
Again--the lawsuit is going forward--the mayor has not, as yet, "won" anything.
Ps: It is interesting that The Auditor calls the mayor embattled--in my opinion, the residents of Plainfield are the ones who are embattled--looking for competent leadership out of city hall but not finding it--the battle rages on...for honesty, ethics, and transparency.