MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The Jersey Animal Coalition and South Orange have 30 days to find an amicable resolution to the ongoing conflict over charges of health code violations at the animal shelter operated by the JAC.
Lawyers for both sides were in municipal court today.
William Strazza, counsel for the JAC, and municipal prosecutor Gracia Robert Montilus spoke in private for nearly a quarter-hour before announcing that more time would be needed to reach a resolution. Whether that would come in the form of an out of court settlement or a trial resolution was not clear.
“We’re asking that the court bring this case back in 30 days,” Montilus said.
The JAC has been under quarantine since a March 12 inspection found 51 health code violations at the shelter. Since then, roughly 30 more charges have been brought against the facility’s management.
“We acknowledge receipt of the 80-some odd charges and want to enter a not guilty plea to all matters,” Stazza said.
The parties are due back in court on July 15. If a resolution cannot be reached by then, the case will likely head to trial.
“I think we can schedule trial, if need be, for the first week in August,” Montilus said.
Judge Jonathan Rosenbluth said he believes cooperation between the two parties is a step in the right direction.
A former volunteer, however, said she believes that the talks are unlikely to lead anywhere.“They didn’t decide anything, they never do,” said the volunteer, who declined to give her name. “It’s definitely going to need to go to trial.”
Strazza declined to comment on the proceedings after the hearing.
The JAC is a nonprofit organization that operates the animal shelter in South Orange. Until it was closed, it served as the intake shelter for South Orange and Maplewood animal control. The JAC runs the shelter under a lease agreement with South Orange, where the shelter is located.