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Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz, the Morris County assignment judge. (Photo: New Jersey Globe.)

Judge moves for speedy trial in Mendham election challenge

GOP incumbent sees to overturn results of election he lost by three votes

By David Wildstein, December 27 2022 2:40 pm

A Superior Court Judge has ordered an expedited trial date in a bid to overturn the results of the November 8 election for Mendham Township Committee, where incumbent Thomas Baio lost to Democrat Lauren Spirig by three votes.

Morris County Assignment Judge Stuart Minkowitz has set a January 19 trial date to hear Baio’s allegation that 33 of the voters ought to be rejected because they didn’t meet the residency requirements.  He’s also expedited the briefing schedule.

“There shall be no adjournments of the trial date absent extraordinary circumstances,” Minkowitz said in his order.  “The parties shall ensure that all witnesses are available on the trial date and prepared to testify.  Absent extraordinary circumstances, the Court will not entertain applications for adjournments/continuances of the trial due to unavailability to witnesses.”

After initially winning by two votes, Spirig’s lead expanded to three after a court-ordered recount initiated by Baio.

Many of the challenges involve adult children of Mendham Township residents who continue to vote out of their parents addresses even though they allegedly no longer live at home.  One of the voters targeted in the lawsuit is the daughter of Committeewoman Amalia Duarte, the Morris County Democratic Chairman.

Sprig is due to be sworn in on January 5.  Baio did not ask Minkowitz to delay her taking the oath until the court challenge is over.   That means tonight could be Baio’s last meeting.

With Sprig, Republicans would have a 3-2 majority on the township committee in the hometown of former Gov. Chris Christie.

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