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Superior Court Judge Maritza Berdote Byrne

Judge’s decision on Morris GOP convention case due early next week

By Nikita Biryukov, January 22 2021 5:29 pm

A Morris County Superior Court judge will decide early next week whether to dismiss a case brought by two former Republican freeholders who sued to block a Jan. 16 Morris County Republican Committee convention to vote on whether the GOP there should adopt a party line.

Judge Maritza Berdote Byrne said she’d issue a ruling on the MCRC’s motion to dismiss late Monday or early Tuesday.

Former freeholders David Scapicchio and John Sette, who chaired the county Republican organization for 17 years, sued the MCRC a day before the original convention date, charging it was improperly noticed because an email sent by GOP Chairwoman Laura Ali did not include a specific date for the convention.

Berdote Byrne issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Jan. 16 convention, but Republican leaders in Morris have scheduled a new convention for Feb. 6.

Zakin, representing Scapicchio and Sette, sought further restraints, but the judge found the new meeting was noticed properly.

Joe Bell represented the MCRC, to which he is counsel.

The court battle is the latest field for an intra-party feud over whether Republicans in Morris should adopt a party line.

Ali and others, like State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville), argue a line is needed to keep Republicans competitive in Morris as Democratic strength grows there, while line opponents like Sette and Scapicchio caution adopting a line would centralize power with party leaders and dissuade new and, importantly, young Republicans from seeking office there.

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