A Morris County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant and Sergeant took the initiative to co-design a class for civilian employees of the Office’s Legal Services Division to enhance their knowledge of the intricacies of foreclosures, writs, wage garnishments and civil complaints.
Carol Sullivan, Supervisor of the Legal Services Division’s Finance Unit, and Tiffany DeFilippis, Supervisor of the Post-Sale Foreclosure Unit, recently completed the 13-week Civil Litigation course that Legal Services Division Detective Lieutenant Mark Chiarolanza and Sergeant Mike Turkot created in collaboration with Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Paralegal Studies Program.
The Sheriff’s Officers partnered to design course curriculum with Dr. Deborah A. Fredericks, FDU’s Associate Dean for Continuing Education, and Attorney Andrew Lane, an adjunct professor of civil litigation at FDU who taught the course that drew 10 civilian Sheriff’s Office employees from Morris, Sussex, Mercer, Warren, Burlington and Hudson counties.
Detective Lieutenant Chiarolanza and Sergeant Turkot helped develop the curriculum to assist civilian employees – who handle thousands of documents annually – in fully understanding the purposes behind the filings and their critical roles in managing the paperwork.
Civilian staff in the Legal Services Division are trained in-house, and attend monthly meetings with their counterparts from other Sheriff’s Offices in the state, but the FDU class provided for a broader understanding of what otherwise could be viewed at times as mere data-entry.
“I applaud Detective Lieutenant Chiarolanza and Sergeant Turkot for their ingenuity in helping to create this class, which will motivate and help staff better appreciate their vital roles in the Legal Services Division,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
The 14 civilian staff members in the unit, depending on their specific jobs, process summonses and complaints related to lawsuits or divorce filings, wage garnishments, bank levies, evictions, and other matters. The Sheriff’s Office provides a civil process service – the delivery of legal documents to parties – and other staff manage property foreclosures, from pre-sale foreclosure matters through officially conveying the ownership of real property auctioned at Sheriff’s sale.
In the regular course of business, money is collected, deposited, and transferred, with the Legal Services Division in 2018 handling upwards of $44 million moving in and out of its accounts, Detective Lieutenant Chiarolanza said.
The course curriculum included, but was not limited to: building basic legal vocabulary, exploring the attorney/paralegal relationship, identifying facts, issues and legal rationale, explanations of contract and tort causes of actions, drafting basic legal documents, preparation of deposition summaries and answers to interrogatories and simple motions, and discussion of the New Jersey Court Rules covering litigation, ethics, and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.