Legal Department

The Department of Law, created pursuant to TCOP 5-68 et seq., is the legal advisor to the Mayor, Municipal Council and all City departments, boards, commissions, authorities or agencies except as otherwise provided by ordinance. 

The Director of the Department of Law is known as the Corporation Counsel.

The Corporation Counsel is charged with enforcing all laws and protecting the interests of the City, as well as prosecuting and defending actions and proceedings by and against the City and every City department.

Khalifah Shabazz-CharlesKhalifah Shabazz-Charles
Corporation Counsel

 Among the wide ranging duties of the Corporation Counsel are:

  1. Advising the Council committees and City officials upon all legal questions arising in the conduct of City business;
  2. Preparing or revising ordinances when requested by the Council or any committee thereof;
  3. Rendering opinions on legal matters or questions submitted by the Council, its committees, or any City officer;
  4. Personally or by representative attending all City Council meetings for the purpose of giving legal advise;
  5. Preparing all contracts and instruments to which the City is a party and approving all bonds to be submitted by the city;
  6. Preparation of all charges and complaints and appearances in court and the prosecution of persons charged with violations of a City ordinance, statute, rule, or regulation;
  7. Reporting on the outcome of litigation to the Council, the Mayor, and any City official having control of the subject matter of that litigation.

All of the departments and divisions within the City are advised by members of the Corporation Counsel's staff. In addition, members of that staff, under the direction of a Chief Municipal Prosecutor, prosecute all cases in the Paterson Municipal Court on behalf of the City.

Independent authorities or commissions such as the Housing Authority, Parking Authority, Board of Adjustment and Planning Board are represented by separate counsel not under the auspices of the Department of Law. 

In addition to those matters which are handled in-house, pursuant to TCOP 5-72, the City retains certain outside counsel. These outside counsel include attorneys handling the defense of tort claims and workers compensation actions, special labor counsel and bond counsel. These outside counsel report to and interface with members of the Corporation Counsel's staff.

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City of Paterson, NJ

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