NJ Supreme Court Sets New Standard For Judging the Judges

January 21, 2015

In a rare decision involving judicial ethics, the Supreme Court set a new standard for evaluating the behavior of Judges in NJ.  This case dealt with two specific issues: 

 

According to the NJ Supreme Court, this disciplinary case raised two questions:

 

(1) What the appropriate standard should be to measure whether a judge’s

personal behavior presents an appearance of impropriety; and,

 

(2) Whether Respondents -- two sitting judges in Passaic County -- violated that

standard by regularly dining in public with a longstanding friend who was under indictment for official misconduct.

 

The Court held:  The Court revises the standard to assess whether a judge’s personal behavior creates an appearance of impropriety, and adds an element of objective reasonableness to the test. The Court adopts the following new standard: “Would an individual who observes the judge’s personal conduct have a reasonable basis to doubt the judge’s integrity and impartiality?” Applying that standard, the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that respondents violated Canons 1, 2A, and 5A(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct, but imposes no sanctions in light of the Court’s revision of the applicable standard.

 

A copy of the Court's decision is available here: 

 

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