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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Santiago given another six weeks in office

Police Director Joseph Santiago has been granted a short-term reprieve from a March court decision that would have ousted him from office for violating Trenton's residency ordinance.

Three judges from the state's Appellate Division granted the stay after reviewing competing briefs from both sides of the issue.

They also granted a fast-pace briefing, argument, and opinion schedule that surely dashes the previously expressed hope of Mayor Douglas H. Palmer to "drag this out in the courts."

Lawyers for Mr. Santiago and Mayor Palmer have to turn in their case briefs by April 28, and the judges have scheduled a June 3 court date for arguments with a decision likely to be rendered soon after that.

Mr. Santiago's lawyer - Salvatore Alfano - already began spinning the decision on the stay by making claims that the decision vindicated the position of Mr. Santiago and Mayor Palmer, because in general stays are only granted when there is at least some likelihood of success.

But other legal sources have said that the oddly-crafted court schedule - which usually stretches months and even years - means that the Appellate judges compromised on the decision, basically saying "we will grant you this stay, but we are going to decide this one very quickly."

Plaintiffs in the suit to remove Mr. Santiago like me were told from the beginning that there was a very good chance that the entire affair could take a year or more before coming to a close, and the Appellate Division judges have precluded that from happening.

Also, the plaintiffs in this suit seem to have the law on their side, while Mayor Palmer and Mr. Santiago only have a bunch of convoluted and contradictory arguments that go against many public statements made by both men for years.

This one is not over yet.

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