SPARTA, NJ – More than a year after being charged with driving while intoxicated, Sparta Councilman Jerry Murphy has still not had his day in court.
According to the Sparta Municipal Court, Murphy is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday night, February 22 in Hopatcong. Representative from the Hopatcong Municipal Court did not have any information as to the reason it has taken so long to settle this matter.
An Hopatong Court Administrator said there were “a number of issues,” associated with the matter and suggested Sparta Municipal Court would have more details. An OPRA request to the Sparta Municipal Court revealed only one order related to The State of New Jersey v Jerard J. Murphy dated November 12, 2016. The Order granted the State’s motion to quash or stop Murphy’s attorney, George Daggett from obtaining documentation through a subpoena but allows Daggett to subpoena “the subject Dispatcher” to provide testimony.
The OPRA also named Gary Kraemer as Murphy’s attorney. Kraemer’s office, however, said Daggett, no longer with their firm, was handling the matter.
When asked why the matter has not yet been settled, Daggett through a representative from his office, said he would not comment on an active case.
The court date and venue have been changed several times. The case was moved at least twice from Sparta; briefly assigned to Wantage and finally landing in Hopatcong. The Hopatcong Municipal Court has reported several hearing dates including June 20, 2016 and November 21, 2016.
Sparta Police Public Information Officer Det. Dennis Proctor's only comment was that the Sparta Police had completed their required paperwork "within days of the arrest." Proctor said that was the extent of their involvement in the matter.
On Feb. 13, 2016 around 12:45 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Dan Elig was conducting “speed enforcement,” on Mohawk Avenue. Elig observed Murphy speeding and driving erratically as he followed him down the road and onto Route 517. Elig’s report says Murphy’s 2007 Toyota was clocked at 34 mph in a 25 mph zone. The report further says Murphy’s car “continuously drifted right straddling at times the white fog line.”
Murphy was stopped at the Ogdensburg border. According to the arrest report, when speaking with Elig, Murphy initially showed the officer an “open bi-fold wallet” that “was displaying a gold badge that read ‘Mayor Sparta Township ‘on the badge.”
In addition to Elig, Sparta Sgt Joseph Pensado and Ogdensburg Police Officer David Cowdrick were on the scene when Murphy, suspected of being intoxicated, was asked to perform field sobriety tests. (Dash Cam Video)
Several council members have said they have no knowledge of the court proceedings or issues with Murphy’s DWI charges. Initially they released a statement through the Sparta Police Department that read, in part, “The Mayor and Council are troubled and extremely concerned by this event and view it as a very serious matter.”
Murphy was reelected to Sparta Township Council in November, 2016, having run unopposed. He continues to sit on the Sparta Planning Board as well.