By JOHN T. WARD
Reduced by conflicts of interest to half-power, the Red Bank council hired attorney Dan O’Hern Jr. to defend the borough against a lawsuit Friday afternoon.
The selection was formalized at a special council session called in advance of a Monday morning hearing at which a Superior Court judge could oust one council member at the behest of another.
Councilwoman Kathy Horgan, along with Democratic party secretary Kate Okeson, filed suit February 22 to undo the February 9 appointment of Angela Mirandi to fill the seat vacated in January by Erik Yngstrom.
Horgan and Okeson contend in court papers that Mirandi’s appointment was illegal because they were denied an opportunity to participate in the Democratic organizations candidate selection process.
The borough; Mirandi; the local Democratic organization; and Councilman Ed Zipprich, in his role as Democratic party chairman are the defendants.
Superior Court Judge David Bauman has scheduled a hearing for 9:30 a.m. Monday on a order to show cause requesting that Mirandi be unseated immediately.
With Horgan absent, Mirandi and Zipprich abstained on votes at the special session to name O’Hern as the borough’s attorney in the case, and to have Scott Salmon of the Jardim, Meisner & Susser firm represent Mirandi.
O’Hern, of the East Bergen Place firm Byrnes, O’Hern & Heugle, is a former borough attorney for Red Bank and former councilman in Little Silver. His late father, Daniel J. O’Hern, served as Red Bank mayor and was a state Supreme Court justice for nearly two decades.
O’Hern was designated at the borough’s January 1 reorganization as “conflict counsel” to step in the event borough Attorney Greg Cannon had to recuse himself.
Cannon did so in this matter, telling Bauman on Wednesday that his “representation of one or more of the clients here would materially limit my responsibilities to the others as the borough attorney representing all of them,”
Mayor Pasquale Menna asked why, if Cannon had a conflict, O’Hern didn’t also. O’Hern, he said, is “actively representing the borough in tax court” and thereby represents all council members.
Cannon said question of conflict concerns “whether your representation of one party materially adversely affects your representation of another party,” and that as a tax attorney, “he does not have a conflict.”
Additionally, O’Hern was among the lawyers suggested by the Monmouth County Joint Insurance Fund, Cannon said.
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