Charges Dismissed Against Assistant Prosecutor Involved in Morris Twp. Accident

Daily Record
May 15, 2013

A municipal court judge has dismissed three motor vehicle tickets filed against a Morris County assistant prosecutor who was accused in December of hitting a fence with a county-issued car and driving away without calling police.

Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Legiec, 52, was issued motor vehicle summonses for careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident after she struck a wooden split-rail fence on private property on Gaston Road in Morris Township around 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2012.

Because Legiec is employed by the county Prosecutor’s Office, the tickets were transferred to Sussex County for prosecution in Vernon Township Municipal Court. Upon the recommendation of Municipal Prosecutor Michael Hanifan, Judge James Devine on Tuesday night dismissed the three tickets, including the most serious offense of leaving the scene of an accident which carries a penalty of up to six months’ loss of a driver’s license upon conviction.

“Justice was served by the resolution,” said Legiec’s attorney, Patrick Mullin of Fort Lee. “Mr. Hanifan spelled out all his reasons on the record in great detail.”

Hanifan said that all the parties involved were assembled Tuesday night in Municipal Court and that after reviewing all paperwork and speaking to everyone, he determined a just resolution was dismissal. Hanifan said “there was no playing favorites” because the facts showed no evidence of carelessness on Legiec’s part.

“It was just an accident,” he said.

Legiec, who was hired by the county in September 2012 and is assigned to the fraud unit, reported that her county-owned vehicle slid on wet leaves on Gaston Road which caused her to leave the road and strike a fence on a homeowner’s property. She reported that she waited at the scene for several minutes for the homeowner to exit but when no one emerged from the house, she drove the additional mile or two to work and reported the crash to her supervisor at the Prosecutor’s Office.

Morris Township police, meanwhile, weren’t contacted for several hours. Hanifan said his review of the records showed that Legiec was not certain which municipality she was in and she appropriately reported the incident to the closest county law enforcement agency -- her employer. Township police were alerted after Legiec filled out accident forms at the county and a prosecutor’s office detective was available to accompany her back to the scene to determine the proper municipality, Hanifan said.

“Further, the car accident that occurred was not observed by any party. There were no witnesses and no admissions of carelessness by her (Legiec)” Hanifan said. “The accident speaks for itself. To prove the case, there has to be some proof of carelessness, either through witnesses, accident reconstruction or admissions.”

Meanwhile, Morris County, through its insurance fund, reimbursed the property owner $895 for damage to the fence while front-end damage to the county sedan cost $2,499 to repair, according to county records.

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