Atlantic City councilman plans to appeal dismissal of wrongful prosecution suit against state



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ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — An Atlantic City councilman said Monday he'll appeal the dismissal of his lawsuit alleging the New Jersey Attorney General's office maliciously prosecuted him for voter fraud.

Marty Small contends an appeals panel was wrong to dismiss his lawsuit Thursday after numerous rulings in his favor.

Small and five others were acquitted in March 2011 of charges that they tampered with absentee ballots during the 2009 Democratic primary campaign for Atlantic City mayor, allegedly trying to steal the election by manipulating ballots designed for voters too sick to make it to the polls.

The councilman sued after the verdict, alleging the state knew it had no evidence against him but prosecuted him anyway because officials were angry about Small's acquittal on a previous voter fraud charge in 2006.

"This is far from over," Small said. "If they think this is going to discourage me and make me go away, they got the wrong one."

Elie Honig, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice, said the ruling prevents prosecutors from worrying about being sued for doing their jobs.

"As the appellate court recognized in its decision, prosecutors and law enforcement officers provide a unique — and critical — public service, and should not be subjected to frivolous lawsuits simply for doing their jobs," she said.

The panel sided with an assertion by the Attorney General's office that prosecutors are entitled to immunity for actions taken in their official capacity.

Small lost the 2009 primary to Lorenzo Langford, and filed suit against the state in December 2011.

In 2006, Small also was found not guilty of voter fraud, this time regarding allegations of ballot fraud in a previous mayoral election in which he was not a candidate.

Small said he has spent over $100,000 on legal fees defending himself in the criminal trial and pursuing the civil case against the prosecutors.


Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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