Attorneys at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble scored a $500,000 verdict by showing a mayor’s refusal to reappoint the city’s public defender was motivated by gender bias.

A jury in Union County Superior Court awarded $450,000 in economic damages and $50,000 for emotional distress on March 12 to Joy Spriggs, who held the job of public defender in Plainfield for 15 years until her appointment was not renewed in 2017. Spriggs, a Plainfield resident, claimed that Mayor Adrian Mapp had a discriminatory motive when he replaced her with Douglas Mitchell, a nonresident of the town, in violation of a local residency ordinance.

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