April 23, 2014 at 8:06 AM
WEST CALDWELL, NJ – The trial of The State of New Jersey vs. Michele Meade, Livingston's township manager, got under way on Tuesday.
It has been over a year since Livingston hosted the controversial April 19, 2013 Emergency Service (ESU) training on the Dubrow’s property located at 247 W. Northfield Road, where conflict erupted between Meade and three individuals participating in the training: Livingston Police Sergeant Kenny Hanna, Belleville Police Officer Charles Mollineaux and his civilian wife, Kelly Mollineaux.
As a result of the incident, charges were filed against Meade by Hanna on May 2, 2013 (disorderly conduct, N.J.S.A 2C:33-2B) and by Kelly Mollineaux on April 22, 2013 (simple assault, N.J.S.A 2C:12-1A1), while a private report into police conduct was initiated by the Livingston Township council and executed by private attorney, John Quirk.
On June 19, 2013, West Caldwell Judge Bridget A. Stecher found probable cause regarding Kelly Mollineaux’s charge that Meade assaulted her during the ESU training, and today, the state agreed to withdraw the other complaint of disorderly conduct for offensive language. Stecher explained that while it was reported that Meade did use profane language during the incident, it was, in this case, protected under her first amendment right.
On Tuesday, Stecher heard the testimonies and cross examination of Kelly Mollineaux and Sgt. Hanna as well as of three others present at the Dubrow’s property during the ESU training: Belleville Officer Charles Mollineaux, Livingston Officer Vince Daly and Little Silver Officer Frank Salerno.
Before proceedings, Meade’s attorney, Salvatore Alfano, asked the court to take judicial notice that a) Under N.J.S.A title 40, as the township manager, Meade is head of the department of public safety; b) Under Chapter Two for the Township of Livingston there is an ordinance that says Meade is the appropriate authority of the Livingston Police Department; and c) The incident occurred on a day when the city of Boston was on lockdown after the marathon bombing.
Stecher responded to Alfano by saying that she would take note of his first point that Meade is head of the department of public safety, however the relevance of Alfano’s second notice will be decided during trial, as the ordinance in chapter two of the Township of Livingston was amended on April 22, 2013, just three days after the ESU training, to reflect that Meade was the appropriate authority of the LPD. **
In regard to Alfano’s third point about lock down in Boston, Stecher said that she would take note of his argument that this may have set the tone for Meade’s state of mind during the incident; however its relevance must be seen during the trial.
Representing the state is West Caldwell Assistant municipal Prosecutor Joseph DeFuria. The case will continue this morning at 10 a.m. at West Caldwell Municipal court located at 30 Clinton Road, West Caldwell.
** TAP was recently notified that Judge Stecher was incorrect in saying that the ordinance was amended on April 22, 2013. It was last amended in 2010. Click here to see ordinance.