Ocean Blues—U.S. District Court Judge Peter Sheridan has ruled against the state in a lawsuit concerning seismic testing along the ocean floor off the coast of Barnegat.

New Jersey, along with the Department of Environmental Protection and its commissioner Bob Martin, sued the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) earlier this month, seeking an injunction to stop the latter from performing the testing from its research ship, the Marcus G. Langseth.

The suit, filed in federal court in Trenton on July 3 by acting state Attorney General John Hoffman, claims the defendants “denied the state an opportunity to review for consistency with its coastal zone management program.”

New Jersey also feared that the testing would disrupt natural wildlife habitats and have a negative effect on several of the state’s most profitable industries, including summer tourism.

“We must take no chances when it comes to protecting our ocean resources, our commercial and recreational fishing, and our state’s $40 billion tourism economy,” Martin said.

The Marine Seismic Survey Research Project, which studies climate change, is designed to send shock waves every five seconds. The team behind the project includes scientists from Rutgers University, the University of Texas, and Columbia University, whose Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory manufactured the testing apparatus.

The state announced plans to appeal Sheridan’s ruling in a press release on Tuesday.


Terrence Brody

Bringing Up Brody—Gov. Chris Christie has tapped another New Jersey lawyer to head up the office in charge of Superstorm Sandy federal aid.

Formerly chief of staff to the state attorney general, Terrence Brody will be the next Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding (GORR), Christie announced on July 8.

Brody, who has been with the Attorney General’s office since 2010, will take the reins from previous executive director Marc Ferzan, who resigned from the post to take a teaching job at the University of Virginia.

The GORR, created after Sandy made landfall in 2012, works with state offices, New Jersey residents and local businesses to assist in reviving communities hit hardest by the storm.

Christie said Brody was part of the group that developed the GORR and called him “an indispensable part of our recovery and rebuilding team.” He thanked him for “continuing to serve the people of our state as we continue to deliver on our recovery mission.”

At the Attorney General’s office, Brody was responsible for “assisting and advising the attorney general on legal, policy and administrative issues,” Christie’s office said.

A 2003 Rutgers University School of Law-Newark graduate, Brody got his start in private practice, first with Gibbons in Newark from 2004 until 2008. He then spent two years with Greenberg Traurig in Florham Park before joining the Attorney General’s office.


Richard Shackleton

Up in Flames—Ocean County law firm Shackleton & Hazeltine sustained serious damage last week after a fire started in a cigarette receptacle near the office.

The multi-alarm fire burned through the roof of the Ship Bottom building, which houses lawyer Richard Shackleton and other attorneys, including Shackleton’s daughter, Katie.

The blaze started Monday afternoon while the workday was still ongoing, but was extinguished that evening with no major injuries reported.

Ship Bottom Fire Chief Wade Bradley said a check on the site the next day found only “smoldering under piles of wet papers.”

Bradley said the situation was made worse by a compromised gas main near its starting point. The office’s balloon construction didn’t help either, he said, with hollowed walls providing air pockets for the fire to grow.

The investigator working the case with the Ocean County Fire Marshal, Billy Gee, was out of the office and could not be reached for comment.

The event garnered major attention, with social media posts and news helicopters monitoring the moves of first responders from all over Long Beach Island.

Early reports of suspicion surrounding the origin of the fire were quickly dismissed, though Shackleton is no stranger to controversy. An obscene outburst directed at animal-rights supporters following a pigeon shoot at a Pennsylvania gun club earned the attorney an ethics grievance in 2010.


Richard Wolfe

Bad Situation—Miami attorney Richard Wolfe has lodged a suit against Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino, alleging the former “Jersey Shore” cast member and Howell resident attempted to pay his legal bills with bad checks.

Wolfe, who runs Wolfe Law Miami, filed the complaint in Miami-Dade County court on July 8, claiming Sorrentino and his brother, Marc, owe $29,175 in legal fees, along with accruing interest.

According to the suit, the brothers were sent monthly statements regarding the large balance, but “only partially paid the bills rendered to them,” and some of the checks bounced.

“They paid me lots of money and stiffed me on the last bill,” Wolfe, who has been the Sorrentinos’ lawyer since 2009, said.

Wolfe is also asking for treble damages, which would triple the amount owed on all the bad checks. The complaint includes copies of two bounced checks, both for $2,000 each, one from The Situation’s personal bank account and one written against a Middletown tanning salon owned by the brothers.

This is the second time in less than a month that Sorrentino has faced public money issues. A police report against the reality star was filed in mid-June after Boca Tanning Club employees claimed their paychecks bounced.

His publicist, Cindy Guagenti, said the matter is being resolved.