PATERSON, NJ – Veteran city councilwoman Vera Ames-Garnes will be allowed to complete her final term in office.
A judge on Wednesday morning ruled in Ames-Garnes’ favor against an attempt by the Passaic County prosecutor’s office to have her removed before her planned retirement this summer.
The prosecutor’s office was seeking the ouster on the grounds that Ames-Garnes had been convicted of a disorderly persons offense in 2010 involving a Prospect Park police officer making a traffic stop in Paterson.
Ames-Garnes, who has served as city councilwoman for 25 years, was obviously elated after Superior Court Judge Marilyn Clark rendered her decision. She smiled and shook her lawyers’ hands.
Clark said Ames-Garnes’ long history of public service was a mitigating factor in her favor. Clark upheld a municipal court judge’s ruling that the councilwoman should only be fined as a result of her conviction.
Prosecutors had argued that Ames-Garnes improperly interfered with the police officer doing his job, resulting in the obstruction charges against her. But Ames-Garnes had maintained she was simply asking the officer why the Prospect Park cop was making a motor vehicle stop in Paterson. During her trial, Ames-Garnes produced witnesses who testified to Patersonians’ perception that that police in neighborhood towns frequently target minority motorists from the city in traffic stops motivated by racial-profiling.
[Editor's note: PatersonPress.com apologizes to its readers. We had promised an update to this story this afternoon, but we ran into some obstacles.]