A trial set to begin on Wednesday challenging the results of a township committee election in Mendham has been pushed back to February 7 after an attorney representing Democrat Lauren Spirig – the winner by just three votes — was permitted to amend his complaint.
The extension rescinds a previous order by Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz, who had steadfastly maintained that there would be no delays.
“There shall be no adjournments of the trial date absent extraordinary circumstances,” Minkowitz said in his December order. “The parties shall ensure that all witnesses are available on the trial date and prepared to testify
Republican Thomas Baio, who lost his re-election bid to Spirig on November 8, is alleging that ballots cast by 33 voters should be rejected because they didn’t meet the residency requirements. In the meantime, Spirig was sworn into office on January 5.
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 chair.
Minkowitz denied a request by Baio’s attorney to dismiss the cross complaint.
It’s not immediately clear how the recent day will affect witnesses who had planned to be in court in Morristown on Wednesday. Minkowitz had insisted on an in-person trial and refused a request by the New Jersey Globe to livestream the proceedings so that Mendham Township residents and other interested parties can observe.