Bergen County Court House

Traffic Court — Parking space, often tight at the Bergen County courthouse in Hackensack, will disappear altogether when the lot closes today for construction of a new county justice center and parking garage.

The new garage is expected to open in two years. Until then, lawyers, jurors and visitors will have to park a few blocks away at a River Street lot, open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., with shuttles to the court every 10 to 15 minutes.

Bergen County Bar Association President Gerald Salerno, of Hackensack's Aronsohn Weiner & Salerno, says the group met with county officials to air its concerns and they've been largely addressed. The attorney entrance is being moved to the Court Street rotunda. Lawyers with Bergen County attorney IDs will also be let in at the employee entrance on Hudson Street. Two 20-minute spots near that entrance will be reserved for couriers dropping off papers.

Salerno says he is also hoping for a drop-off area for lawyers lugging trial materials.

Once the garage and justice center — which will house prosecutor, probation and sheriffs' offices — are done, renovations will begin on the 101-year-old courthouse. County Prosecutor John Molinelli, who will get two of the six floors in the new building, freeing up courthouse space, calls the renovations "long overdue."


Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi

NIMBY, Snooki — Producers of an MTV Jersey Shore spin-off have been told they're in the wrong neighborhood.

Once word got out that a beach house in Berkeley Township's Pelican Island section had been rented out for filming of the third season of Snooki and JWoww, starring Nicole Polizzi and Jennifer Farley, several neighbors united in opposition. They aired their complaints at a township council meeting last Monday.

Because the township has no filming ordinance, no permit was required. But along with cameras have come a large trailer and other vehicles and floodlights for nighttime outdoor shooting.

The complainants' lawyer, Ronald Gasiorowski, of Gasiorowski & Holobinko in Red Bank, says that violates the municipal land-use ordinance by turning a private home into a for-profit movie studio. "It's no different than if they were to … have a law firm occupy the entire building," he says.

Township zoning officer John Battisti on Thursday advised the home's owner, Michael Loundy, that the filming amounted to a "commercial use in a residential zone." Battisti demanded a halt to the activity within 10 days, lest a court complaint be filed. During that period, filming may continue.

A call to a listed number for Loundy wasn't returned Friday.

Amanda Ruisi, a spokeswoman for 495 Productions of Burbank, Calif., the show's producer, did not respond to an email.


Not in It for the Money — Two motorcycle club members are precluded from recovering damages in a federal civil-rights suit against the New Jersey state police due to their failure to list it as a contingent asset when they filed for bankruptcy.

James Coles, of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, and Joseph Ballinger, of the Tribe Motorcycle Club, showed bad faith when they filed for Chapter 13, U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle ruled last Monday. "Plaintiffs' actions and affidavits reveal an attempt to have it both ways in two different courts in this District and suggest bad faith, rather than rebut its presumption," he wrote.

Plaintiffs lawyer Boyd Spencer, of Norristown, Pa., says his clients failed to list the suit on their bankruptcy petitions because he cautioned them not to "think of it as a money case" but to focus on the suit's potential to stop harassment of bikers through declaratory or injunctive relief.

The third plaintiff, Pagans member Louis DeGailler, is still eligible for damages, and all three plantiffs can be granted declaratory and injunctive relief.

The suit, Coles v. Carlini, alleges the bikers' civil rights were violated when state troopers stopped them in Vincentown and ordered them to turn their jackets inside-out or take them off so their motorcycle club insignias would not be visible. The suit includes free speech and equal protection counts.

Transparent Justice — Open-government advocates are calling on the Supreme Court to improve public access to the financial disclosure forms justices fill out every year.

Instead of releasing the paper forms through the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on a delayed basis, and only on request, the court should make them immediately available online, the groups said in a July 23 letter to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.

Common Cause, which has been urging greater transparency from the court on several fronts in recent years, was joined in the letter by half a dozen other organizations.

Changing the procedures for releasing financial disclosure forms would not be easy for the high court or for lower federal courts, because of laws and regulations that make it a cumbersome process — a process managed by the Administrative Office.

Those requesting the financial disclosures fill out a written form, which is then sent, in most cases, to the judge whose disclosure form is being sought. The disclosure forms, which reveal a judge's assets and income, are also redacted before release for security reasons, so that a judge's signature and other information, including a spouse's place of employment and the location of rental properties, are obscured from public view.

An early attempt to post the disclosure forms online was initially blocked by the Administrative Office in 1999.

— By Mary Pat Gallagher, David Gialanella, Charles Toutant and Tony Mauro (The National Law Journal)