Legal Ethics

2 Judges in Hot Water Over Alleged Inappropriate Remarks

Admittedly making a sidebar remark about a “bund meeting” after a plaintiffs lawyer requested time off during trial to attend a Passover seder has put a New Jersey judge in hot water with the state’s disciplinary authorities.

In a complaint filed yesterday, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct says that Union County Superior Court Judge William Wertheimer’s reference during a medical malpractice trial to a Nazi-linked organization created the appearance of an ethnic and religious bias, reports the New Jersey Law Journal in an article reprinted by New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

The complaint also cited earlier comments allegedly made by the now the 67-year-old Wertheimer that could be perceived to create an appearance of bias.

“While I strongly disagree with the conclusion of this complaint, I respect the process and will respond in an appropriate, transparent and timely manner. I trust eventually all will be accurately revealed,” the judge said in a written statement provided to the legal publication.

Meanwhile, the Nebraska Supreme Court has suspended for 120 days County Court Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo, in part because of a profanity-laden voice mail message the Omaha jurist left for a prosecutor who had rescheduled a criminal case by agreement with opposing counsel but without consulting Marcuzzo, reports the National Law Journal.

The disciplinary action, which suspends the judge without pay, also references the judge’s use of profanity during an ex parte communication with another prosecutor and cites his improper interference in an unrelated matter concerning his nephew.

The full NLJ article provides a partial transcript of the judge’s telephone tirade, for which Marcuzzo apologized in a letter to the prosecutor within a few days. Marcuzzo declined to comment for the article.

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