||New Jersey Libertarian Party
Open Government Advocacy Project:
Manville Borough: Did Richard Armstrong break the law?
- After the Borough Council\'s September 10, 2012 meeting, I observed a heated discussion between two meeting attendees regarding whether the Borough Administration and the Manville Police Department acted appropriately by not charging Recreation Director Richard Armstrong with a municipal ordinance or statutory offense for consuming alcohol on school grounds during a May 19, 2012 softball tournament. The relevant police report is on-line at http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2012/2012243uf//ManvilleReport.pdf
One of the gentlemen was distressed that Mayor Corradino had expressed during the meeting that Armstrong\'s suspension from employment, which caused him to lose about a $1,000 in pay, was sufficient punishment. The attendee felt that Armstrong, in addition to the administrative suspension, ought to have also faced criminal consequences. The other gentlemen said that the Manville Police Chief had stated at a previous meeting that Armstrong\'s conduct did not violate any laws or ordinances. Thus, he argued, the police could not have charged Armstrong with an offense even if they wanted to.
After the meeting, I submitted two Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests to Manville Borough seeking to find out whether Armstrong\'s alleged misconduct, i.e. being intoxicated in public \"to the point of being passed out\" * \"with a beer in his hand\" violated the law. Today, I received responses to my OPRA requests and have placed them on-line here.
From reading the responses, I conclude that:
1. Section 2 of Manville Borough Ord. No. 396 makes it unlawful for a person to \"consume intoxicating beverages on any public street, sidewalk, thoroughfare or within the confines of any park or playground within the limits of the Borough of Manville without a permit to do so from the proper municipal authorities of the Borough.\" Since Armstrong\'s alleged drinking arguably took place in a \"park or playground,\" it would appear that his alleged activity violated the ordinance. Section 43 of the same ordinance subjects violators to a fine of up to $200 and/or up to ninety days in the county jail.
2. On August 25, 2012 at 8:48 p.m., two local men were charged by Manville police officer Nickolas Franzoso with \"consumption of alcohol in public.\" The men, however, were not charged under Section 2 of Borough Ord. No. 396. Rather they were charged under another ordinance that prohibits consumption of alcohol in non-licensed public places where live entertainment is offered. Regardless, it appears that Manville police have recently enforced alcohol consumption violations against others.
If anyone feels that Mr. Armstrong has not already been punished severely enough may wish to consider filing a citizen complaint against him in the Manville Municipal Court in accordance with New Jersey Court Rule 7:2-2(a)(1). My reading of Caldwell Terrace Apartments, Inc. v. Borough of Caldwell Tp., 224 N.J. Super. 588, 596 (App. Div. 1988) leads me to believe that such a complaint can be filed up to a year after the violation.
John Paff, Chairman
New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s
Open Government Advocacy Project
P.O. Box 5424
Somerset, NJ 08875
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