According to the judge, Claybrooks remains on the ballot in the NJ-10 primary

Former East Orange City Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks is expected to remain on the ballot in the special Democratic primary in New Jersey's 10th District on July 16 after an administrative law judge ruled to reject a challenge to her nomination petition.

Claybrooks had submitted 352 signatures, meaning 153 of them had to be disqualified for her to be excluded. Judge Susana Espasa Guerrero had rejected 65 as not authorized to sign.

Guerrero ruled that the challengers “did not present sufficient evidence to establish a high probability of forgery or that the circulater's actions were taken in bad faith and that the nomination petition was submitted fraudulently.”

“Particularly given the less restrictive standards of the primary, I am not convinced that the burden of proof of fraud is sufficient to invalidate the petition or even Pamphlet 7

“The New Jersey Democratic State Committee attempted to remove Claybrooks from the ballot on the grounds that a series of forged and invalid signatures should invalidate the entire section of petitions using the same circulator,” Guerrero said. “The petitioners have failed to meet their burden of proof.” to demonstrate the existence of fraud that would justify the invalidity of the signatures contained in the petition,

State counsel Raj Parikh pointed to one family where every signature was in the same handwriting, suggesting that one person signed for their entire household.”

“The evidence before the court shows that the allegations made by several of these circulators are false,” Parikh said.

Parikh also asked Guerrero to take into account that none of the circulators complied with the subpoenas he issued as a witness.

“Individuals involved in the campaign specifically ignored a court official's lawful direction to appear to be testifying in defense of their own actions and processes, that they had voluntarily chosen to be part of the fact, that they ignored the summons which they had not communicated,” Parikh said. “The Claybrooks campaign has made the decision, as far as we know, not to encourage these individuals to show up here and testify, which they were required to do, in violation of the campaign.”

Matt Moench, Claybrooks' attorney, said that even if the balance of some of the signatures Parikh referred to were invalidated, the candidate would still have the 200 signatures needed to qualify.

“No evidence presented here suggests fraud,” Moench said.

Claybrooks served as political director for Andy Kim's U.S. Senate campaign in North Jersey before leaving earlier this month to run for the late Rep. Donald Payne's congressional seat.

Another judge, Kim Belin, rejected Claybrook's attempt to oust Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver from the vote. A challenge to the petitions by law professor Eugene Mazo, who is also seeking Payne's seat, was unsuccessful.

The final decision to accept or reject petitions rests with the Secretary of State, Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker, former Payne aide Shana Melius and New Jersey Economic Development Authority COO Darryl Godfrey are also in attendance, along with John Flora, Debra Salters, Alberta Gordon and Sheila in the Montague race.

Anna Harden

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