Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lawsuit seeks names of candidates who vied for Trenton prosecutor position.

Trenton Mayor
Eric E. Jackson
On December 15, 2015, 10 a.m., Mercer County Assignment judge Mary C. Jacobson will hear argument on whether the City of Trenton must disclose the identities and resumes of those who sought to become the City's chief municipal prosecutor but were passed over for that position.  

At issue in Paff v. City of Trenton, et al, Docket No. MER-L-2152-15 is the proper interpretation of Executive Order No. 26 which was issued by Governor James McGreevey in 2002.  According to the Executive Order, while the resume of the successful candidate is a public record after the position has been filled, the resumes of those who didn't get the position may be disclosed "only where the unsuccessful candidate has consented to such disclosure."  Walter M. Luers of Clinton is my attorney in the matter.

In my July 23, 2015 Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for the unsuccessful candidates' resumes and identities, I argued that since the City refused to disclose the names of those who sought the chief prosecutor's position, I had no way of knowing whether or not those candidates consented to the release of their resumes.  I specifically asked the City, if it denied my request, to "set forth the basis of [its] knowledge that the candidate who submitted the resume does not consent to its disclosure."  Unfortunately, City officials denied my request without addressing whether or not the unsuccessful candidates consented to disclosure of their resumes or were even asked for their consent.

The appointment at issue is controversial.  The City appointed Kimberley Wilson as chief municipal prosecutor earlier this year.  In a news article about the appointment, the Trentonian described Wilson as "a former city attorney with no previous experience as a prosecutor who was forced out as interim law director in 2011 by now-convicted former Mayor Tony Mack and later resigned from another position in Hoboken."  I believe it is in the public's interest to know the identities and qualifications of the other candidates so that the public can better determine if the City's selection of Wilson was reasonable and prudent.

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