A Superior Court judge today denied Phil Rizzo’s request to move his small claims trial out of Morris County and said the constitutional rights of the former Mountbank congressional candidate and governor were not violated because the trial was conducted via Zoom.
The Morris County Republican Committee filed a lawsuit alleging Rizzo for Congress stripped them of the $1,500 table fee they agreed to pay for the county’s GOP convention last winter. Rizzo countersued for $600, claiming the ad they purchased from the county party organization was never used.
In a court filing, Rizzo argued that he could not get a fair trial in Morris County because of the local Republican Party’s strong control of the court.
Judge David J. Weaver rejected these demands.
“There is simply no evidence that there is any serious doubt that a fair and impartial trial can be achieved because the Morris County Republican Organization is part of this action,” Weaver said. “I’m a judge in Sussex County, and to the extent that it’s relevant, I’m in office and I’m ten months away from retirement.”
Rizzo’s attorney, Ronald Berutti, also argued that his client had a constitutional right to a personal trial.
“This argument is also not convincing. This is not a problem of freedom of speech,” he said. “In the constitutional arguments presented. I really do not think that there is any real point or substance or any of the legal authority that the defendant’s moving papers refer to is really persuasive or too important to the question now before us.’
Weaver is currently in a settlement conference with Berutti and Joseph Bell IV, Morris’ GOP attorney.