HAWTHORNE — A 15-minute encounter on Nov. 18, 2007, nearly ended the 24-year public-service career of Paterson City Councilwoman Vera Ames-Garnes, but a judge late Thursday decided not to remove her from office.
Hawthorne Municipal Judge John Meola ruled that while hours earlier he had found her guilty of obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct, Ames-Garnes' conduct during those 15 minutes was not enough to strip her of official duties.
"This court, and this heart and its mind, cannot condone forfeiture of office for 15 minutes," Meola said. The councilwoman's actions were motivated by her suspicions of racial and geographical profiling against Patersonresidents generated from residents' complaints, he said.
Ames-Garnes was fined $350 for the obstruction charge. A fine for the disorderly conduct charge was waived by Meola.
"My slogan is, the work that got done has spoken," Ames-Garnes said following Meola's decision.
The councilwoman said after the hearing that she has not decided whether to seek a new term in May because of health issues.
When asked why she sought reelection so many times, Ames-Garnes said it was because of her constituents and that she couldn't find someone to replace her.
"But now I've found someone, and am training her," Ames-Garnes said. (Source)
Sidebar: I am extremely happy that Councilwoman Vera Ames-Garnes will maintain her council seat despite her disorderly persons conviction. Councilwoman Ames-Garnes has been on the frontline fighting for the rights and general welfare of Patersonians for decades; and she deserves nothing but praise for her dedication and service to the City of Paterson.
Shout to my buddy Attorney Frank Sciro, who represented Councilwoman Ames-Garnes during her trial.