The court administrator in West Windsor is suing the township and its municipal judge for allegedly trying to remove her from her position, including causing an investigation into payments she received for her work during special court sessions.##M:[more]##
In the lawsuit, Trudy Moore, a Hamilton resident who has served as municipal court administrator since March of 1996, claims that her problems with township officials began when municipal judge Mary S. Brennan replaced David A. Saltman, who retired in 2004.
Under Moore’s predecessor, former court administrator Margaret Weiss, a system was set up in which court personnel, including the court administrator, were paid for attending special DWI sessions for the municipal court. Vouchers for these payments were sent to the chief financial officer and payments were made to Moore and other court employees out of the Parking Offense Adjudication Act fund without any problems until January, 2007, the lawsuit states.
However, immediately, upon assuming her position as municipal judge, Brennan “began a campaign of intimidation and harassment” against Moore, the lawsuit states. This included trying to get Moore to retire “due to her age.”
During the Christmas seasons of 2005 and 2006, Brennan gave court personnel gift certificates to a liquor store, and Moore questioned whether those gifts were appropriate, given they were coming from a judge “entrusted with the adjudication of Driving While Intoxicated offenses.” As a result, “in retaliation for the plaintiff’s refusal to retire and the plaintiff’s commentary as to the propriety of the liquor gift certificates as gifts to the municipal court staff,” Brennan “refused to authorize any salary increases” for Moore, the lawsuit alleges.
Further, on January 27, 2007, according to the lawsuit, Brennan sent a memo to business administrator Chris Marion attacking Moore for receiving payments for her work during the special DWI sessions, indicating that Moore “was improperly paid front he POAA fund” and alleging that statutes did not permit her for being paid for those special sessions. As a result, Moore was suspended, with pay, and removed from the court building without being able to get her belongings, the lawsuit stated. The township later filed a claim with the County Prosecutor’s Office that she received questionable payments, but the prosecutor exonerated her in July. She has, however, remained suspended with pay, the lawsuit states.
The suit alleges township officials have indicated they wanted Moore removed from her job, but because she is a tenured court administrator, she can’t be removed “without good cause and not without due process.”
However, Township Attorney Mike Herbert called the allegations in Moore’s lawsuit “baseless.”
The lawsuit, he said, “was issued on the assumption that Trudy Moore was going to be fired. That did not happen. She was suspended for 17 days based upon the prosecutor’s report that we received.”
Herbert said officials are in discussion with Moore’s attorney “with the hope that it can be dismissed” without making a formal request. He also defended Brennan, saying the accusations are “absurd and are baseless.”