Corrupt Municipal Judges?
A story on News Channel 4 aired yesterday about the “crackdown” on corrupt Municipal Judges in New Jersey. It said 350 Judges will have their records reviewed to determine if preferential treatment and “special rules” applied to friends and family members of certain Judges.
I wonder if Hoboken just invested in lots of paper shredders, or will have an “accidental” water leak in the records room.
N.J. Chief Justice Wants Review Of Courts After Corruption Charges
Four Jersey City municipal judges have been charged with official misconduct for allegedly fixing traffic and parking tickets for themselves, their friends and family members.
Reacting to the charges, New Jersey Chief Justice Stuart Rabner ordered “a review of the entire municipal court system to ensure that proper procedures for dismissing tickets are being followed.”
His order could mean a statewide investigation to determine if “the culture of corruption” referred to by Attorney General Anne Milgram in Jersey City has infected local courts elsewhere in the Garden State.
Read the rest of this story after the Jump.
Milgram, announcing the charges regarding the parking tickets Monday at a news conference, said judges are supposed to avoid any conflict of interest or suggestion of impropriety, but these four clearly did not.
“Judges are like umpires,” she said. “They’re supposed to call the balls and strikes fairly,” she said. “They basically made up the rules themselves.”
The four judges are Wanda Molina, the former chief judge, as well as Pauline Sica, Victor Sison and Irwin Rosen.
In a statement, Molina attorney Gerald Krovatin described the charge against his client as a “premature and fundamental misunderstanding of the practical, day-to-day operation of the Jersey City Municipal Court.”
“We are confident that Judge Molina has done nothing intentionally wrong and nothing criminal,” Krovatin said, adding that his client anticipates that the charge will eventually be dismissed.
Sica, Sison and Rosen could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
All but Rosen face second-degree charges of official misconduct for allegedly dismissing multiple tickets for themselves and others. Rosen is charged with third-degree misconduct for allegedly dismissing his own $42 parking ticket.
The third-degree charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and the second-degree charges carry a maximum 10-year sentence.
Molina has resigned her post; the other three are on unpaid leave.
Some of the tickets were dismissed outright and in other cases the fines and penalties were significantly reduced, Milgram said.
Molina is charged with dismissing five parking tickets for a friend between April and August of this year. Sica allegedly disposed of three tickets — two parking tickets and one moving violation — for Sison and a member of Sison’s family between May 2004 and March 2007. Sison’s charges are related to the same three tickets, specifically that he solicited Sica to dispose of the tickets for him.
The four judges charged make up almost half of the 10 sitting judges in the Jersey City Municipal Court. Jersey City Mayor Jerremiah Healy has appointed four new judges who have already been sworn in.
“When you’re talking about four out of 10 judges, the system clearly has broken down,” said Milgram, who added that the investigation is continuing.
The four judges charged are expected to appear in Hudson County Superior Court on Nov. 1 to enter a plea.
The investigation began when Molina told other people that two municipal court officials may have fixed tickets using the court’s computer system. The two court employees were suspended, and attention later shifted to Molina, who stepped down in late September.
The municipal Court for Jersey City, the state’s second-largest city, is now being supervised by a Hudson County assignment judge.