Yesterday was not the first time Mims Hackett saw the inside of a courtroom. In the 1970’s, he was sentence to thirty years in a state prison following his conviction on assault and kidnapping charges.
In August 1975, Hackett, a school teacher and community activist, was accused of kidnapping Larry Moss from the front porch of his Orange home and hitting him with a gun after questioning him about neighborhood break-ins.
The following year, he was became a candidate for North Ward Councilman. One week before the May election, the Essex County Prosecutor, Joseph Lordi, announced that he would prosecute Hackett for kidnapping and assault. Hackett, who claimed his prosecution was political, lost that election.
Hackett began serving his sentence at Trenton State Prison in November 1978. In February 1979, Governor Brendan Byrne — at the urging of State Senator Frank “Pat” Dodd, newly-elected Essex County Executive Peter Shapiro, and a group of African American clergymen – commuted Hackett’s sentence to 2-3 years. He was released from prison in June of that year.
In 1988, Hackett won a Council seat, and became Mayor in 1996. In 2001, he ran off the Essex Democratic organization line and won the nomination for Assembly – with the support of Senator Dick Codey – against Essex County Freeholder Linda Lordi Cavanaugh, the daughter of the man who prosecuted him 25 years earlier.