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Matthews v. Deane

April 9, 1984

MICHAEL J. MATTHEWS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ADELAIDE DEANE, JAMES W. MASLAND III, AND ATLANTIC COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS, DEFENDANTS



Gruccio, J.s.c.

Gruccio

This matter is an application by plaintiff seeking recusal of the trial judge regarding any issues which remain to be resolved. The underlying suit is a challenge by plaintiff to the validity of a recall election held in Atlantic City on March 13, 1984 at which time plaintiff was recalled from his position as Mayor of Atlantic City and James Usry was elected to serve the duration of plaintiff's unexpired term of office.

On March 14, 1984 plaintiff made application to this court for a preliminary injunction restraining defendant, Adelaide Deane, City Clerk of the City of Atlantic City, from certifying the results of the March 13 election and further restraining her from swearing in Usry as the new mayor of Atlantic City. At the March 14 hearing this court cited the three requirements for the issuance of a preliminary injunction, to wit, plaintiff must demonstrate to the court's satisfaction:

1.) a likelihood that plaintiff will ultimately prevail on the merits of the case;

2.) a probable danger of irreparable injury in the event that injunction is not granted; and

3.) that the injury to plaintiff in the absence of the injunction outweighs the foreseeable harm to the defendant in the event the injunction is granted.

Thereupon, this court undertook to review a schedule of errors alleged by plaintiff to have occurred in the recall petition certification process. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that a large number of signatures were illegible and that additional subscribers to the petitions printed their names when they should have signed their names. After reviewing a majority of the alleged errors, this court determined that for purposes of granting a preliminary injunction, plaintiff had failed to establish

a likelihood of success on the merits. Consequently, plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction was denied.

Plaintiff now contends that this court's review of the petitions at the March 14 hearing and its subsequent conclusion that plaintiff did not establish a likelihood of success on the merits require that the court recuse itself from any further participation in this case. Reliance is placed on N.J.S.A. 2A:15-49 and R. 1:12-1.

N.J.S.A. 2A:15-49 provides in pertinent part:

No judge of any court shall sit on the trial of or argument of any matter in controversy in a cause ...


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