The relationship between Hillside Mayor Angela Garretson and the city’s police department is strained, to say the least. Last summer, she was pulled over by the township’s union president. That encounter lasted under 40 seconds. A day after the traffic stop, however, she was issued five traffic summonses — all from that very brief encounter.
She is now fighting the tickets in court. Recently, her trial lasted more than three hours. It will continue in February with new testimony. Why the lengthy trial? Mayor Garretson says the tickets were given for political reasons. There may be some basis to her argument: There has been an ongoing battle between her and the police department’s leadership.
In order to avoid any conflict at the hearing, Mayor Garretson’s case was heard in Union Township. There, the hearing lasted until midnight. During the hearing, Garretson’s attorney questioned the motives of the police officer in question, Matthew Casterline. Arguments became heated before Judge Kelly A. Waters delayed the case.
Casterline gave his testimony regarding the traffic stop. Allegedly, he and another officer were directing traffic at a second job at a construction site. He said the mayor drove the wrong way to get around traffic. Casterline said he spoke with the mayor, then waved her through. The next morning, he wrote up the tickets, including using a cellphone and obstructing traffic.
Another construction worker corroborated Casterline’s story, stating he saw a white Mercedes SUV similar to the mayor’s driving the wrong way down the road.
Garretson has been at odds with both the officer and the police chief Louis Panarese. She had recently demoted the chief to captain before the township council reinstated him.
The case will resume on February 21.
If you have been issued a traffic ticket in New York, you have legal rights. Contact the attorneys at Feifer & Greenberg today for a free consultation.