PATERSON, NJ – The man who has overseen the day-to-day operation of Paterson’s municipal court for the past decade said he is being fired as of Friday.
Manuel Quiles, who was appointed municipal court director by former mayor Joey Torres in August 2002, said he was called into Business Administrator Charles Thomas’ office at 3:30 pm on Monday and told of his termination. Quiles said Thomas told him that Paterson’s Presiding Judge J. Kevin McDuffie wanted to make the change.
“When I asked Judge McDuffie, he said he made no such request,’’ said Quiles. “He said it was the mayor’s doing.’’
McDuffie could not be reached for comment. Mayor Jeffrey Jones said he doesn’t make personnel decisions for the city court. “The judge handles that,’’ Jones said.
Quiles, a resident of the 6th Ward, makes about $76,000 per year. He said he had been on vacation and ran into Judge McDuffie Monday morning. “He told me, ‘I’m glad to see you, this place is not the same without you,’’’ said Quiles describing his conversation with McDuffie.
Jones named McDuffie as presiding judge in May 2011, replacing Karol Graves, daughter of former mayor Francis X. Graves.
Quiles said Thomas did not provide any reason for his termination. The court director said he has never been reprimanded for his work performance and said he received the unusual accolade of being given a plague of recognition of the quality of his work by the Superior Court. Quiles said he has stayed out of politics since taking the job in keeping with court rules.
Prior to being named court director, Quiles said he had worked as a chemical engineer.
Councilman Andre Sayegh, who chairs the council committee that oversees the municipal court, was surprised by Quiles’ termination. “It appears to be very abrupt,’’ said Sayegh. “I’ve worked very well with him in the past. I believe he’s performed well.’’
Quiles' successor has not yet been picked, according to Thomas.