Thursday, January 22, 2015

N.J. Supreme Court says judges broke rules by dining with indicted friend

Editor's note: Your ProbateShark sadly views the continuing unethical, illegal, corrupt behavior of the judges in the Probate Court of Cook county.  Gore, Tyler, Sykes, Cefalu and Wyman case infractions are reported to law enforcement regularly and yet no sanctions are placed upon the crooked probate judges and lawyers. A modern legal earthquake similar to that which destroyed Lisbon three hundred years ago and broke the power of the Inquisition is needed in our courts.  Soon???  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster,


N.J. Supreme Court says judges broke rules by dining with indicted friend

State Supreme Court.JPG
The New Jersey Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Trenton in 2013. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for
Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for By Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for The Star-Ledger
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on January 21, 2015 at 3:33 PM, updated January 22, 2015 at 3:11 AM


TRENTON — The state Supreme Court today ruled that a pair of Passaic County judges violated ethics rules by dining in public with a long-time friend after he was indicted on corruption charges — but stopped short of punishing the judges.
The case did, however, prompt the state's highest court to introduce a new standard for how judges in New Jersey should conduct themselves.
State Superior Court Judge Raymond A. Reddin and Paterson Municipal Judge Gerald Keegan faced sanctions ranging from suspension to being forced off the bench for continuing to attend regular dinner gatherings after their friend, Anthony Ardis — a former top-level administrator at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission — was charged with official misconduct.
In a unanimous 7-0 decision, the Supreme Court said the judges violated New Jersey's judicial code of conduct by "socializing in public" with Ardis.
"Because such events raise questions about the integrity of judges and the Judiciary as a whole, they should not take place," Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote for the court.
But Rabner stressed that both judges avoided sanctions partially because they had "an unblemished record and neither engaged in actual impropriety."
Still, the court said New Jersey's current standards for judicial conduct were too subjective and should be brought in line with other state and federal courts across the country.
Thus, the court added the following language to the state's rules: "Would an individual who observes the judge's personal conduct have a reasonable basis to doubt the judge's integrity and impartiality?"
"That approach appropriately protects the reputation of the Judiciary and, by extension, the public," Rabner wrote. "It also is fairer to judges, who can better anticipate the meaning of the more familiar test."
The court noted that any judge from now on who practices Reddin and Keegan's behavior in the case will be sanctioned under the new standard.
Ardis has been friends with Reddin for 50 years and Keegan for 30 years, according to court papers. In 2000, they began weekly gatherings for dinner at a Woodland Park restaurant, following by Mass at a nearby church.
In 2011, Ardis was indicted for allegedly using his power and influence at the PVSC — the commission that oversees the state's largest sewage treatment plant — to exploit subordinates into helping fix up his mother's home for free.
The group continued to meet despite the indictment, according to the papers. And in September 2012, they dined at the restaurant while a local Republican organization hosted a dinner there the same evening. One guest emailed Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno about it, and the matter was referred to the state Division of Criminal Justice, the documents say.
The judges voluntarily stopped dining with Ardis after the grievance, according to the papers.
In June of last year, the state Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct recommended that Reddin and Keegan be only publicly admonished and not suspended or removed.
The court today said the public could have concluded that the judges "tacitly endorsed" Ardis' innocence by dining with him in public.
Still, the court added that judges "are not required to shun dear, lifelong friends, or family members who face criminal charges."
"But planned social interactions like the one in question here are best held in private without a group of onlookers," Rabner wrote. "We appeal to judges' good common sense and encourage them not to socialize in public in such instances and thereby highlight for others a longstanding relationship that may raise reasonable concerns."
Reddin's attorney — his son, Raymond B. Reddin of Totowa — said he was pleased with today's ruling.
"As the opinion clearly stated, both Judges have unblemished records and neither engaged in any actual impropriety," the son said. "Now they can go forward serving the public with their heads held high."
Keegan's attorney, Clark Cornwell III of Paterson, said he was happy the court created a new standard.
"I think it now tells judges that their conduct will be assess in the context of what a reasonable person might think," Cornwell said.


Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.

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