Judges and Official Misconduct (Part 5)

by | Oct 21, 2017 | Blog, Criminal Law, Judge and Jury, Monmouth County, Ocean County

criminal lawyerUnequivocally, “it is the judge’s obligation to see that justice is done in every case that comes before him or her.” A judge must live by this humble maxim, one that, as most sitting judges would agree, is more easily stated than realized. The Code codifies this ideal and provides guidance for the conduct of each judge as he or she performs his or her duties. A judge who refrains from performing her official duty in a case that comes before her, coupled with the purpose to bestow a benefit on herself or another, subjects herself to criminal prosecution for official misconduct. This is not such a case.

This portion of the opinion reads as though the appellate judges were picturing themselves in the defendant judge’s shoes. Hopefully, they can all have as much sympathy for the run-of-the -mill defendant whose fate they are called upon to consider. Also, it would be interesting to see how the case plays out on remand. If the case goes to trial, it would be interesting to see if the testimony discloses that the judge did receive a benefit from the boyfriend that she protected. It stands to reason that she must have received something in return for the assistance she provided.

We do not mean to imply that a judge may only commit official misconduct by refraining from performing a duty while in the courtroom. A judge is exercising her official duties, for example, while “on call” or on “emergent duty,” outside of the courtroom and after normal work hours. We have no doubt that if, for example, a judge was to refrain from authorizing a search warrant despite being presented with ample probable cause because it involved a personal friend, she would have committed official misconduct under N.J.S.A. 2C:30-2b. And, certainly a judge may violate N.J.S.A. 2C:30-2a by affirmatively committing acts unauthorized by his office or in an unauthorized manner in many ways outside of the courthouse and at all hours.