General Information of the Legal Department
The following is a brief summary of major pending litigation:
1. Meridian Construction v. Teaneck - The general contractor for the new Police Department building commenced an arbitration proceedings to collect $28,121.52, the balance claimed due it under its contract. Teaneck object to paying the general contractor because the building has had many leaks, causing substantial water damage. Pursuant to contract, the case was tried in a series of arbitration hearings by an arbitrator appointed by the American Arbitration Association. The Arbitrator ruled that the contractor had to repair the leaks prior to being paid the balance due it. The contractor went to court in an attempt to get paid before fixing the leaks, but the judge disagreed and told the contractor to finish the work. At the end of 1999 the contractor was in the process of correcting the leaks in the building.
2. The Courts of Glenpointe v. Teaneck and Univision - The Plaintiffs, residential tenants of the Glenpointe project, sued to enjoin Univision (a television station tenant at the Glenpointe office complex) from constructing an emergency generator. Teaneck was brought into the case because of a claim that our Construction Official improperly granted a permit to construct the generator, but the crux of the case is really the dispute between the station and the tenants. Because of other issues between the Plaintiffs and Univision this case is moving very slowly at present.
3. Abraham v. Teaneck Ethics Board - After hearings in 1993, the Teaneck Ethics Board found former Mayor John Abraham guilty of violations of our Ethics Code and imposed a fine of $250.00. Mr. Abraham appealed the conviction to an Administrative Law Judge. The Administrative Law Judge will decide this case on the papers previously filed, rather than go through the expense of a long trial. We have been informed that the Judge will not render a decision until sometime in the Summer of 2000.
4. Brennan v. Teaneck - Firefighter Brennan sued the Township for violating the "Right to Know" law and a Township ordinance because we refused: (a) to give him access to files on the settlement of an old case, and (b) to permit him to air an audiovisual presentation of an audio tape of a disciplinary hearing conducted by the Township Manager. As of the end of 1999, the case was scheduled for pretrial conference by Superior Court Judge Jonathan Harris.
5. Bachner v. Teaneck - The Township, the Mayor, the Board of Education, and a private bus company, were sued for failure to provide school bus service to a Teaneck student for transportation to a religious private school in Oakland. At the end of 1999 the pleadings had been filed, but not very much else had taken place in this case.
6. Various Self-Insurance Fund cases - Since Teaneck is self-insured for most accident cases (other than automobile) we defend claims involving damages alleged to have been caused on our streets, parks, and other public property. At the end of the year there were 15 such cases being defended by the Township Attorney.
7. Various State Tax Court Appeals - There are numerous State Tax Court Appeals being defended by the Township Attorney. Most of these cases involve commercial or industrial properties. Several of the cases are by institutions requesting exemption from all real estate taxes. These cases will be tried throughout 2000.
8. Various Construction Cases - From time to time, when residents seriously violate Building Department regulations, it is necessary to take them to Teaneck Municipal Court to try and obtain compliance with the law. Teaneck is mainly concerned with having the violations removed and the unsafe conditions cleared up, but the law provides penalties and the fines for noncompliance can be quite high. In the event that compliance and payment of fines is not made Teaneck has the option of enforcement in the Municipal or the Superior Court. These cases concern the failure on the part of homeowners to obtain certificates of occupancy, building permits for extensions, required inspections, etc.
9. Various Labor Cases Teaneck is involved in a number of labor and employment cases, such as the several cases brought by Firefighter Brennan, by Police Lieutenant Mancini, all being handled by labor counsel.
General Information of the Legal Department
|Martin R. Cramer:||Esq., Township Attorney|
The Township's Legal Department comprises attorneys serving the Township, the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Rent Board, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the Environmental Commission, and the Historic Preservation Commission, as well as a Labor Attorney, a Municipal Prosecutor, and a Public Defender. Each of these attorneys is in private practice and serves the Township on a part-time basis. The Township Code of Ethics bars each of the appointed attorneys, and other members of their firms, from appearing before any Township agency, board or department on behalf of private clients.
Apart from litigation, the members of the Department serve the municipal government in a number of ways. They attend all meetings of the boards to which they are assigned, they render advisory opinions to municipal appointed and elected officials, and they facilitate the business of government, including drafting public contracts and local laws. The Municipal Prosecutor and the Public Defender attend all sessions of the Municipal Court, where the Prosecutor presents all criminal charges on behalf of the Township and the Police Department, and the Public Defender assists those defendants that cannot afford legal counsel. The Public Defender also acts as legal counsel to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
The Municipal Attorney may also serve as attorney for the Self-Insurance Commission which administers the self-insurance program. That program, in existence since 1976, covers all risks in Teaneck except for fire damage to major buildings and liability for automotive equipment.
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