Judge admits she presided in court while ineligible to practice law

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A part-time municipal judge in New Jersey has acknowledged that she presided in trials and represented clients while ineligible to practice law.

But the judge, Cecilia Sardina Guzman, maintains in an answer to the ethics complaint that her conduct did not violate ethics rules cited by the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

Law360 has coverage of Guzman’s Feb. 4 legal filing, while the Paterson Press had coverage of the initial ethics charges, filed Jan. 13.

The ethics complaint alleged that Guzman was administratively ineligible to practice law because she failed to register a trust account for the deposit of client funds for about a year.

Guzman was a municipal judge in Paterson, New Jersey, and Dover, New Jersey, while she was ineligible to practice.

Guzman’s lawyer, Robert Ramsey, said Guzman was unaware of her ineligibility.

“No one ever told her,” Ramsey told the Paterson Press.

Ramsey said Guzman had an Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts account, but she failed to register the bank account number.

Ramsey told Law360 that the case does not involve a factual dispute. The issue, he said, is what level of discipline Guzman will receive.

Ramsey said Guzman learned of her ineligibility during an October 2019 hearing on an unrelated disciplinary matter.

Guzman was censured last year for failing to keep a client updated on his case and neglecting a different client’s case, according to Law360.

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