A Hudson County judge has ruled that Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis and other city officials will be deposed in a “sexting” case that has been ongoing for nearly four years.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The Court finds that the requested discovery and the information sought appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence per R. 4:10-2. The Court is mindful of the opposition that seeks entry of a protective order and quashing subpoenas, but this is improper procedurally as opposing counsel has to file the appropriate motions with the Court,” Hudson County Superior Court Judge Joseph Turula ruled on December 17th.
“Furthermore, the Court finds exceptional circumstances to extend discovery, specifically the prolonged procedural history and the contentions over discovery requests. The new DED is April 16, 2022, at which point this case would have 1058 days of discovery. Opposing counsel may file the appropriate motions if other relief is sought.”
Stacie Percella, a former deputy registrar for the city, filed a lawsuit back in January 2018, alleging that Davis abused his office by “sexting” her and offering her a $150,000 settlement for a prior lawsuit in exchange for a romantic relationship.
Davis denied any wrongdoing and the case was dismissed about two years later after Hudson County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Espinales-Maloney ruled that discovery in the case was “on a road to nowhere.”
However, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division reinstated the case in May, indicating that an evidentiary hearing should’ve taken place before the case was thrown out.
Nicholas Sullivan, an associate at Steinhardt Cappelli Tinton & Taylor LLC who is representing the city in the matter, argued in a November 29th motion that discovery had lapsed and Percella had not sought to extend it, as well as failing to demonstrate “exceptional circumstances.”
“The Defendant requests that the Notices of [Bernadette] Nestico, [Joe] DeMarco, Davis, [Donna] Russo, and [Gary] Chmielewski are limited to matters relevant and pertinent to the Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint,” he wrote.
“As this Court is aware, this is a highly contentious, and politicized, litigation involving numerous individuals and their careers and positions. The voluminous amount of discovery exchanged in this matter, clearly indicates the involvement, if any, of these individuals in the current litigation.”
For this reason, Sullivan says depositions should not be permitted to inquire into the defendants personal lives.
In a December 13th response, Vincent Gerbino, a managing partner at Bruno Gerbino Soriano & Aitken argued on Percella’s behalf that the city is simply stalling.
“The depositions are relevant and necessary to the Plaintiff’s case in chief. It is clear as day what the Defendants’ counsel appears to be doing: delay, delay, delay then do not produce the Deponents (this worked for them in December, 2019, and they think it will again). Concealment will not be countenanced,” he wrote.
“We all do not need to be reminded that this is a sitting Mayor of the City of Bayonne ‘sexting’ a female subordinate, while at work, after work, and late night. Instead of working toward a resolution, Defendants utilize each and every opportunity to ‘mix up’ a 2013 U.S. District Court case with this State Case.”