Home>Highlight>Judge denies request for Mendham election challenge to be livestreamed to public

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz. (Photo:New Jersey Globe).

Judge denies request for Mendham election challenge to be livestreamed to public

Court case to determine outcome of tight committee election will be in-person only and open to the public

By Joey Fox, January 06 2023 10:24 am

With an important election challenge coming up in Mendham Township in two weeks, a Superior Court judge has denied a request from the New Jersey Globe to livestream the hearing. The challenge to a tight township committee race will take place in-person in Morristown on January 19.

In November, Democrat Lauren Spirig narrowly ousted Republican Township Committeeman Thomas Baio; her margin of victory settled at three votes, or 1,473 to 1,470, after a recount. Spirig has since been sworn in, and is now one of two Democrats on the five-member committee, alongside Morris Democratic Chair Amalia Duarte.

But the Morris GOP filed a challenge, arguing that a number of Spirig voters should be discounted because they no longer live full-time in Mendham Township. After some tussling with Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz over the court schedule, the in-person trial was set for January 19.

On December 29, David Wildstein of the New Jersey Globe sent a letter to Minkowitz requesting that the case be livestreamed so that interested members of the Mendham Township community could watch the proceedings without having to spend a workday in Morristown.

“As you are aware, public confidence in elections is low; transparency and sunlight can help restore faith that the outcome of elections are fair and lawful,” Wildstein wrote. “These matters ought to be discussed in public squares, and never behind closed doors. Respectfully, the judiciary needs to be a partner in this.”

But Minkowitz rejected the request yesterday; no specific reason was given. The in-person hearing will be open to the public, according to Pete McAleer, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts. The trial is not behind closed doors.  

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