When long-time Weehawken Municipal Court Judge Emil Del Baglivo decided to retire at the end of last year, the township needed to find a replacement that had the necessary experience in running a court that has such a high volume in such a small town.
The choice was easy and was practically found next door, when the township council officially appointed Charles Daglian as the new municipal judge.
The 55-year-old Daglian is a native of West New York who has served as the town attorney in Guttenberg for the last four years and has worked in law enforcement and municipal-related legal matters for the last 27 years.
In the past, Daglian also served as an assistant prosecutor in the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, was a prosecutor in Weehawken, Hoboken and Guttenberg after going into private practice and was the prosecutor in towns like Garfield and Lodi until becoming a judge last week.
“At this point of my career, this is a move that makes sense,” Daglian said. “I have to give up my criminal law practice in becoming a judge, but I can still serve as a town attorney. My background is in this type of law, but being a judge represents a new kind of challenge.”
Daglian still keeps his private law practice in Jersey City, so he is well aware of the tasks that a municipal judge has to handle.
However, the township of Weehawken offers a different responsibility than most with a high volume of cases stemming from Lincoln Tunnel offenses that are issued by the Port Authority police.
“The Lincoln Tunnel does generate a lot of court matters,” Daglian said. “There are also now Light Rail cases, because the Light Rail comes into Weehawken. There’s an increase in the population in Weehawken with the housing development on the waterfront. It definitely provides an interesting flow. I’ve only been there a week, but it’s already amazing.”
After receiving his appointment from the township council, Daglian was sworn in as a judge by Superior Court Judge Carmen Messano.
Daglian and Messano were colleagues in the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, where Messano once served as prosecutor. Daglian also worked in the Prosecutor’s Office with Weehawken councilman-at-large Robert Zucconi.
Following the ceremony, Daglian was put right to work and had to deal with several summonses and incidents involving the Port Authority police.
“It was a nice change for me to be able to deal with the people,” Daglian said. “I hope I am merciful with them.”
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner was pleased to be able to hire someone of Daglian’s background to the local bench.
“He’s a great judge with a great resume,” Turner said. “All the different jobs he’s held over the years will only benefit us. We had about four or five candidates that sat down with Jim Marchetti (the township manager) and Rick Venino (the township attorney) and Charlie turned out to be the one with the most experience. When you have someone with more than 25 years experience and an impeccable resume, you hire him. Everyone agreed he was the perfect choice.”
Added Turner, “We have a tremendous volume for a small community and need a judge who can handle that. The Lincoln Tunnel adds a totally different dimension to our courts. Charlie comes highly recommended and should do a fabulous job.”
Serving the people
Daglian, whose wife, Rita, is a Weehawken native, currently lives with his wife and two sons in Bloomfield.
“Being a judge now is perfect for me,” Daglian said. “It’s a perfect time for a life change.”
Daglian said that he plans on changing the court schedule to have it more accessible to residents and to the police officers.
“Right now, it’s not convenient,” Daglian said. “I’ve written to [Hudson County Superior Court] Judge [Maurice] Gallipoli about changing our days to Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday mornings and Thursday nights.”
Daglian also said that he will be more available for couples who wish to get married, as well as same-sex couples who would like a civil union ceremony.
“Any time someone wants to get married and I’m available, I’ll do it,” Daglian said. “The same for civil unions. I have no problem doing that. Everyone thinks that the municipal court judge is there strictly to deal with criminal problems. But he’s there to serve the people. I’m going to be as friendly as possible and that’s why we’re expanding the hours of the court. We shouldn’t have a back log of cases in our court.”
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org