Bid to Oust Jersey City Mayor Fails

A former state legislator can't seek the ouster of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy over a scuffle outside a Jersey shore bar.

That was the ruling Friday by a state Superior Court judge in Monmouth County, who dismissed a lawsuit by Louis Manzo, a former assemblyman and potential Jersey City mayoral candidate.

The judge ruled Manzo has no legal standing to seek Healy's ouster, noting that a prosecutor and a judge already decided not to push Healy from the job.

Healy was convicted in June 2007 of obstruction of justice and resisting arrest for his intervention in a couple's argument outside his sister's restaurant, Barry's Tavern, in Bradley Beach the previous summer.

Police say Healy ignored several orders to leave the scene and that he became combative with them.

"While citizens have been granted broad standing to attack the actions of public officials' wrongful actions when they affect a person financially ... the courts typically seek to restrict standing in non-economic cases to parties with a tangible and direct interest," Monmouth County Assignment Judge Lawrence Lawson wrote.

After Healy's conviction, neither Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin nor the trial judge, John Colannino, sought Healy's ouster.

Healy, who unsuccessfully appealed his conviction in Bradley Beach to the state Supreme Court, praised the decision.

"I am pleased that Judge Lawson dismissed Lou Manzo's frivolous case, which was clearly filed for political purposes," Healy said in a prepared statement. "I will continue to focus on making Jersey City greater. It is time to move forward, and as a result I am no longer prosecuting my civil claim against the town of Bradley Beach."

Manzo had maintained that Healy's conviction on the disorderly persons offenses should have been enough to make the mayor lose his job. He likened Healy's conviction to that of former Newark Councilwoman Dana Rone, who was forced to give up her job after being convicted of disorderly conduct for intervening in a 2006 traffic stop involving her nephew.

Manzo called the decision "absolutely absurd" and vowed to appeal.

"As a former legislator, I can't tell you how much I disagree with it," he told the Star-Ledger of Newark for Saturday's newspapers. He said other similar cases all ended with public officials being forced to resign.

"In every instance, in every case, every judge agreed the statute should be interpreted to protect the public, not the employee," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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