The Supreme Court ruled last week that the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office must indemnify the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office in the defense of the lawsuit by the estate of Philip Seidle, a former Neptune police officer who is in prison for shooting his wife to death.
Monmouth County believed that the determination by the Attorney General in the Seidle case had gone too far. Simply, the Attorney General has, over the course of time, attempted to move more cases to the “Administrative” side so they would not have to devote resources to defending the counties for following the state directives.
“It’s really simple to me—if the prosecutor is expected to enforce the laws of the state, then the state should defend them,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone. “In Monmouth County, we will always support our law enforcement. Sometimes in order to do what’s right, you have to fight and for this matter alone, I believe we have spent more than $200,000 to defend the prosecutor.”
The case is significant as the Attorney General’s Office previously determined that they would not defend the Prosecutor’s Office in its exercise of the law enforcement function.
“This unanimous decision by our highest court should be a welcome relief to anyone in law enforcement. It ensures the AG’s office will have our backs when we carry out our sworn obligations and AG directives,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni. “We and the entire CPANJ are grateful for the Supreme Court’s decision – one that not only properly indemnifies us, but will also save counties and taxpayers money.”
“As a leader in law enforcement, I commend the Supreme Court’s decision since its essential that the Attorney General’s Office supports those who enforce the laws in the State of New Jersey,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden. “Without that support, law enforcement operations may be affected, as there could be apprehension on how to operate, when state law is being followed.”
The case is now being sent back to the trial court to determine how much the state must reimburse the county for defense costs.
“It is my understanding that there are more cases that the Attorney General’s Office should be defending and we will be looking into being reimbursed for all of the taxpayer money spent on those cases as well,” Arnone said.