Linden Municipal Court Judge Fired
As reported in the New Jersey Law Journal, the Municipal Court Judge of Linden was fired because he tried a case in which two cousins were charged with stealing chrome wheels from outside a home in Linden and neither the Municipal Prosecutor or defense lawyers were present.
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The Judge acted as prosecutor and allowed the defendants to cross-examine the police officer who testified against them. He found the two cousins guilty. On appeal, a Superior Court Judge threw out the convictions and called the Municipal Judge’s handling of the case a “perversion of justice.”
What is even more startling is that the fired Municipal Court Judge was reportedly being paid $170,000 per year for the part-time job consisting of two night court sessions per week and a one day session. Not bad for part-time work and more than the full time higher level Superior Court Judges make. They make $165,000 per year.
This case illustrates how flawed the Municipal Court system can be. In the last few years, many other Municipal Judges have gotten in trouble for a number of problems such as multiple DWI arrests or trying to intimidate local police who responded to the Judge’s home responding to a neighbor’s complaint.
The take away lesson is that you have to be very careful in Municipal Court and get a competent attorney to represent you. Otherwise, if you don’t qualify for a public defender, you may be substantially prejudiced if you try to go it alone.
One also has to wonder whose cousin the fired Municipal Court Judge was to get the town to pay his exorbitant salary. In New Jersey, the how did he get that job question is always interesting.