Attorney Angelo Servidio said he likes giving back to his community and serving as the township's public defender is a way for him to join other residents to keep the township as strong as possible.
"I came back here, joining a lot of the same group of people I grew up with, who chose to stay and live or at least work here," he said.
The Nutley Board of Commissioners unanimously re-appointed Servidio to be the township's Public Defender at the June 5 public meeting. He has served for 12 years.
Servidio said Nutley's professional community contains many people who are Nutley "lifers," and stay in town to give back in public service, and the unique group shares a common approach to life.
"It's about a lot of things, but it starts with the proper values," he said.
In the Township Legal Department, Servidio works with longtime Township Prosecutor Alan Genitempo, who also served as a Board of Education Trustee, and former mayor Joanne Cocchiola, who stepped down in January to become Municipal Judge.
"I went to high school with the prosecutor, and the judge was a commissioner and our mayor," Servidio said. "We share a history and the same values among all of us. It's about community - about neighborhoods."
He said he doesn't see his clients simply as cases - a child who is chronically truant or a family close to losing a house through foreclosure are neighbors, not just offenders. He said the township is a close-knit town where many people know each other.
"We, as a group, have a rich background from which to draw in handling cases," Servidio said. "We've kind of stuck together for the good of the town."
Mayor Alphonse Petracco told Servidio at the meeting, "It has been a pleasure working with you for the last four years, and I look forward to working with you in the future."
Petracco directs the Department of Public Safety and deals with Servidio in the legal system.
Servidio's career led him back to his hometown. He has a general practice on Centre Street, but works primarily in criminal law.
After serving a clerkship with a Bergen County Judge following law school, he served as an Essex County Prosecutor for five years.
At that time he bought a house in Nutley, completing his journey back home.
Even though he is among only five percent of lawyers in New Jersey certified in criminal trial law, Servidio is not standing pat.
"I'm going back for my Master of Laws, specializing in International Law Justice," he said. "I never thought I'd go back to law school, but here I am."