Panel Urges Censure for N.J. Justice

Censure is appropriate for a New Jersey Supreme Court justice who interceded in a case against a youth accused of bullying his son, according to the state’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

The committee concluded in its presentment (PDF posted by Law.com) that Justice Roberto Rivera-Soto engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice and created the appearance of impropriety, New Jersey Law Journal reports.

The committee found the judge had called the police chief and asked him to file criminal charges against a youth who head-butted his son. After the youth’s arrest, Rivera-Soto called the county prosecutor, telling him the case should get attention, and he also called the assignment judge, saying he wanted no special treatment.

Rivera-Soto apologized for his actions after an ethics complaint was filed against him in May. The committee said it recognized the judge was trying to protect his family but that his actions could be misconstrued.

“The committee acknowledges that respondent’s actions in this case were prompted by his sincere and understandable concern for the safety and well-being of his son,” the presentment read. But the committee said it is equally mindful that ‘judges must always be conscious that they not blur the line between parent and judge.’ ”

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