Ms. Mogielnicki Resigns as Judge After Just 8 Months
By PAUL J. PEYTON Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Just eight months after her appointment to the bench, Westfield Municipal Judge Marion S. Mogielnicki suddenly resigned the position last Thursday. The resignation took effect immediately.
In response to the resignation, Mayor Thomas C. Jardim informed the Town Council Tuesday night that he plans to appoint two Democrats and two Republicans to a search committee to begin the process of finding a replacement.
In the meantime, judges from surrounding, who already serve as a backup for the Westfield judge will convene court sessions until a replacememt is found.
Mayor Jardim said he would be happy if the appointment can be made within a month.
Ms. Mogielnicki, a 13-year resident, cited time commitments for her law practice and family as the reasons why she could not continue to serve on the Westfield bench.
"It is necessary for me at this juncture to devote more time to the needs of my family, and to the rigors of my law practice," she said in a written statement faxed to The Westfield Leader office shortly after she spoke to officials, Mayor Jardim and members of the council.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to have been of service to the people of Westfield in this capacity," she said.
In speaking briefly with The Leader she further stated, "I came to the realization of what the time constraints were with this job."
Municipal Court meets eight times a month, twice each week. Ms. Mogielnicki received an annual salary of $31,212, according to Town Clerk Joy C. Vreeland. Her salary was the same as that of her predecessor, Edward J. Hobbie.
Judges in neighboring communities will serve until a new municipal judge takes the bench. Westfield Municipal Court, which held sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays under Judge Hobbie, had been meeting on Wednesdays and Thursdays under Judge Mogielnicki.
Town Administrator Edward A. Gottko said under the present town code, the appointment of the Municipal Judge requires council approval.
He said time constraints was the only reason Ms. Mogielnicki gave him after she walked into his office after court and announced she was resigning.
"Its a lot more work than people realize," he explained.
Judge Mogielnickis appointment was said to have been a sticking point by Town Council Democrats during negotiations over the proposed list of appointments by Mayor Jardim and council Democrats this past January.
After hours of negotiations, Ms. Mogielnicki was approved as Municipal Judge by Republicans after their Democratic counterparts agreed to remove Anthony M. LaPorta, a former councilman and the 1994 Democratic Mayoral contender, from an appointment to the Planning Board.
Republican Pamela McClure was named in his place. Mr. LaPorta was later named to the board by Mayor Jardim after William Brennan, a former Democratic council contender himself, resigned before ever serving on the board in order to head up the Westfield Budget and Review Commission created by the Mayor.
Third Ward Councilman Neil, F. Sullivan, Jr., in commenting on Judge Mogielnickis resignation, stated, "I would hope the intent here would be to find the best possible judge."
He said the partisanship shown during the appointment process last December and January was "deploring" and "unprecedented" in council history.
Fourth Ward Councilman Lawrence A. Goldman said he would like to see a bipartisan effort by the committee to find a new judge. While noting the importance of this appointment, he said he does not want to see the process drag on
First Ward Councilman Norman N. Greco, a strong supporter of Mr. Hobbie, said he would like to have seen Ms. Mogielnicki stay on the court.
In terms of the time burden the position puts on any judge, Councilman Greco noted that for Mr. Hobbie, "it was a labor of love."
Ms. Mogielnicki, who has a law practice in Westfield, ran for the Second Ward council seat against former Mayor Bud Boothe in 1989.