The case against Amy DeGise — the Jersey City councilmember accused of a July hit-and-run that sent an Uber Eats delivery bicyclist flying through the air — is beginning to move forward.
A status conference — a pre-trial meeting for attorneys and a judge to discuss the progress of a a case — on motor vehicle charges has been set for Jan. 10 in Newark. The case was moved out of Hudson County to avoid conflicts of interest for the Democratic councilmember. She has substantial political standing in Hudson — she ran on the mayor’s slate in 2021, previously chaired the Hudson County Democratic Organization and her father is retiring after two decades in the politically powerful role of county executive.
For months, DeGise has faced calls from upset community members to resign. More than 7,300 people have signed an electronic petition asking her to step down. She and fellow councilmembers heard from dozens of people asking for the same at several council meetings.
In August, she told community members from the dais that the legal process should be allowed to play out: “I am not resigning. I remain committed to this position on the council.”
Now, the process is about to begin.
“She said, ‘Oh, once the court process is finished, I’ll say more.’ I’m eager to know what that is,” said Colin DeVries, a board member of the Safe Streets Jersey City advocacy group. “What could she possibly say at this point? And what is the explanation? I’d like to hear that.”
Philip Swibinski, a spokesperson for DeGise, said via email that the councilmember “is pleased that the court process has advanced,” but would decline further comment until it concludes.
DeGise faces motor vehicle charges of failure to report an accident and action in case of an accident, the latter being a technical term for a hit-and-run. A person found guilty of failing to report an accident can be fined $30 to $100 under New Jersey law. An action in case of an accident charge carries a fine of $200 to $400 and up to 30 days in jail for a first offense, though a sentence of jail time is rare.
What could she possibly say at this point? And what is the explanation? I’d like to hear that.
DeVries thinks DeGise should face more serious charges. The Jersey Journal reported in August that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office was considering criminal charges, citing an unnamed law enforcement source — but so far, none have been issued.
“You can’t just crash into a pedestrian or a cyclist like that and keep going and get away with it without any serious repercussions,” DeVries said. “It’s just — it’s just not right.”
On July 19, DeGise was caught on surveillance video as her SUV collided with bicyclist Andy Black, who had run a red light. In the video, DeGise’s vehicle keeps moving through the intersection, and doesn’t appear to slow down.
The Jersey Journal reported she arrived at police headquarters to report the crash six hours later.
The Journal and other news organizations later found other concerning issues from DeGise’s past — that she had dozens of unpaid parking tickets in recent years, and that her driving record included multiple suspensions, crashes and failures to appear in court. Police body camera footage published by Hudson County View showed that in 2019, her car was towed from a Hoboken no-standing zone — even after she pleaded with an officer, telling him she was a Jersey City councilmember who’d been supported by Hoboken police.
Swibinski previously told the Hudson Reporter DeGise has faced harassment and death threats since the crash.
DeGise’s case has faded from the headlines, but not from the memories of Jersey City constituents, said Megan Carolan, the online petition’s organizer. She noted only two council members ever called on DeGise to resign. Those who’ve spoken publicly — like DeGise herself, and like Mayor Steven Fulop — said the process should play out.
“I think that … waiting for the process to play out is disrespectful to constituents, because we all saw what happened,” Carolan said. And in the months since the crash, she added, some council members have made public appearances with DeGise. “That’s not neutrality,” she said. “That’s taking the side of the perpetrator. And what does that say to your constituents?”
Fulop hasn’t yet returned a message to his office this week seeking updated comment. Black, the bicyclist injured in the crash, hasn’t yet returned a message to a GoFundMe account he started to collect funds for medical care. Hudson County View has reported Black suffered minor injuries. He’s since appeared at rallies calling for DeGise’s resignation.
Let the court system play it out, the legal process, and then we’ll take it from there.
On WNYC’s “Ask Governor Murphy” in August, Gov. Phil Murphy said DeGise’s behavior was “unacceptable,” repeating the word at least five times. But pressed by reporter and show host Nancy Solomon about whether DeGise should step down, Murphy refused to say.
“Let the court system play it out, the legal process, and then we’ll take it from there,” he said.
Murphy spokesperson Christie Peace said this week he wouldn’t have any further comment “at this time while the legal process plays out.”
Note: The video below includes graphic footage of a vehicle crash with a bicyclist.