Despite Dismissal Request by Akhtaruzzaman, Judge Allows Trial on 2nd Ward Council Seat to Continue
Monday, August 6, 2012 • 3:00pm
PATERSON, NJ – Superior Court Judge Thomas Brogan on Monday afternoon denied a request by Councilman Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman to have the lawsuit seeking to remove him from office dismissed.
The motion for dismissal was made by Akhtaruzzaman’s lawyer, Joe Garcia, after former Councilman Aslon Goow’s attorney, Michael DeMarco, rested his case. Goow is trying to have Akhtaruzzaman removed and himself appointed to the city council on the grounds that Akhtaruzzaman failed to fulfill the requirement that he live in the 2nd Ward one year prior to the May 8 election.
Garcia argued that DeMarco failed to provide any direct evidence that Akhtaruzzaman lived outside Paterson in the year prior to the election in which Akhtaruzzaman beat Goow by about 460 votes.
“He cannot prove his case, he cannot prove that Mr. Akhtaruzzaman did not live at 109 Carlisle Avenue’’ in Paterson, Garcia said.
But Goow’s lawyer, Michael DeMarco, asserted that Akhtaruzzaman’s residence was called into question by contradictions involving things like Akhtaruzzaman’s disaster relief application, his daughter’s registration in Totowa schools and the address on his driver’s license.
“These aren’t misunderstandings, judge, these are lies, at the best,’’ said DeMarco.
Brogan said that based on the evidence presented so far he would allow the trial to proceed. Brogan said a “question of doubt” had been raised by some of the testimony.
“All this adds up to reflect upon an individual’s credibility,’’ Brogan said. “At some point, there’s a tipping point where the credibility has been so flawed or so defective that none of what an individual testifies to is credible or believable.’’
After Brogan’s ruling, one witness took the stand Monday afternoon. That was Henry Sosa, Akhtaruzzaman’s campaign manager.
Sosa testified about Akhtaruzzaman’s involvement in the Paterson Education Organizing Committee’s efforts in January 2011 to get art and music programs restored in city elementary schools and his efforts organizing an anti-tax rally outside city hall in February 2011.
Sosa also said he often picked up or dropped off Akhtaruzzaman at 109 Carlisle Avenue in the winter of 2011.
But under cross-examination by DeMarco, Sosa said he did not know whether Akhtaruzzaman actually slept at that address.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 10 am on Tuesday with testimony by a woman who lived at 122 Carlisle Avenue before Akhtaruzzaman moved in. The lawyers said she was likely to be the last witness in the case. It was not clear when Brogan would render a decision.