WESTFIELD, NJ — A hotly contested court case concerning a Clark man’s speeding ticket issued eight months ago will be transferred to another jurisdiction following a municipal court judge’s decision Thursday.
Judge Parag P. Patel ordered Marek Kaplo’s case be moved due to an internal affairs complaint Kaplo had filed in connection to the case. Patel cited the importance of the court’s appearance of impartiality, integrity and independence.
“There is a possibility of an appearance of impacting all those standards,” said Patel during the brief court proceeding. “So as a result of that I will be making a request to transfer the case.”
Patel agreed with Kaplo’s attorney, Joshua F. McMahon, the timing of the prosecutor’s motion to transfer the case was not in keeping with court rules; however, Patel said he would request the transfer based on the recent revelation of the internal affairs complaint filed in the case and “on all accords.”
Kaplo, 37, claims officers unlawfully stopped him and then later refused to view his personal dash camera video, which he says shows his innocence, according to McMahon, who has argued the officers did not have probable cause for the stop.
While the officer is seen on the video telling Kaplo he was speeding while driving north on Central Avenue from the direction of Clark, McMahon argues his client was driving east on South Avenue from Scotch Plains toward Garwood and was never in the place where police allege he is accused of speeding.
It is a claim, he says, that his client’s video backs up. McMahon claims police did not have probable cause for the stop.
“The audio and the video shows what the cop said is not true,” McMahon told TAPinto Westfield.
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In the law enforcement dash camera video, the officer appears certain of his action.
“Guy was going 54 down [expletive] Central and then cut down Cacciola,” the officer is heard saying while seated in his patrol car.
Eight months later, police are reconsidering the ticket, which would carry a $220 fine and four points if Kaplo were found guilty.
Police Chief Christopher Battiloro in an Aug. 14 email to McMahon writes that Officer Samuel Fourre, who issued the ticket, will recommend it be dismissed.
“The video provided does create reasonable doubt as to whether the speeding violator observed by Officer Fourre was properly identified, and in the interest of justice, a recommendation for dismissal of the summons shall be made at the next scheduled court date,” Battiloro writes.
At Thursday’s hearing, the officer did not make any recommendation. And when McMahon sought to argue his case in court, Patel requested McMahon submit his arguments in writing.
“I’m not going to allow you to be disruptive to this courtroom,” Patel told McMahon. “There are other people in this courtroom. At this time, I am adjourning. Thank you.”
As of Thursday, a next court date had yet to be set. As per the court, the case would be heard in Berkeley Heights, Union Township, or Winfield.
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh