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

Citing vacation schedules, Attorney General seeks delay of Mendham election challenge

Discovery deadline was today, but deputy AG says two-thirds of the Morris County Board of Elections were off this week

By David Wildstein, December 29 2022 9:26 pm

The attorney general’s office is testing whether a Morris County judge’s aggressive, no-extensions deadline in the Mendham election contest trial is fungible by failing to meet a deadline.

Last week, Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz set a January 19 trial date in a bid by a Republican township committeeman who lost re-election by three votes to challenge the results of the election.

Minkowitz’s December 21 case management order required attorneys for Republican Tom Baio and Democrat Lauren Spirig to serve document requests by December 27, and that responses be served no later than today.

Deputy Attorney General Craig S. Keiser said that the Morris County Board of Elections was  “not able to respond to the discovery demands by the deadline.”

“Between December 28, 2022 and December 29, 2022, only one-third of the Board’s staff is in the office and will not return until after the New Year.  And, certain documents requested by Petitioner and Cross-Petitioner are not accessible by those remaining staff members,” Keiser wrote in a letter to Minkowitz at 3:06 PM today.  “Thus, it is not possible for the Board to respond to the discovery demands from Petitioner and Cross-Petitioner by today’s deadline.”

In his order, Minkowitz said that there would be no adjournments of the trial date “absent extraordinary circumstances.”

Keiser has proposed pushing deadlines back one week and holding the trial on January 26 and said that attorneys for Baio and Spirig have agreed to the delay.

It’s not clear whether Minkowitz will consider vacation schedules to be “extraordinary circumstances.”  Keiser’s letter did not address why the Board of Elections didn’t respond to a court order by calling the essential employees back to work to access the necessary documents.

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