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Judges Who Fail to Recuse Themselves Face Censure

September 20, 2011

Although he is retired, a N.J. faced censure for his failure to recuse himself.  According to the investigation, simply being an acquaintance of one of the participants was enough for the judge to need to recuse himself:

The court censured Perskie, who sat in Atlantic County, for not recusing himself from a 2006 case involving an acquaintance and for going into the courtroom after he pulled out of the case.

His handling of that civil trial involving his longtime acquaintance, Frank Siracusa, his former business associate and campaign treasurer, came under scrutiny during his 2008 renomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

After being asked several times by one of the attorneys to recuse himself from the case, Perskie eventually complied, but he informed the Senate committee he did so because he had “blown up” at the attorney, Steven Fram, not because of his relationship with Siracusa.

After the trial was transferred to another judge, Perskie sat in the courtroom twice during the trial and talked to Fram’s adversary. Fram’s client, Alan Rosefielde, filed a complaint with the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. The ACJC in March recommended censure for not recusing himself, the courtroom appearance and his “inconsistent” statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Perskie acknowledged he should have recused himself sooner and he should not have watched the trial, but said he did not deliberately mislead the judiciary committee.

The court called the charge about Perskie’s conduct before the Senate Judiciary Committee a “grave allegation” but said the judiciary’s ethics panel did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Perskie deliberately misled the panel. It noted deciding this was “exceedingly difficult” because Perskie was “extremely lax” in his preparation for the hearing.

It appears that those justices who refuse to recuse themselves may face stricter scrutiny than they had one avoided.  Wonder if the Senate Judiciary Committee will comment on the recusal of Michigan judges now that the new recommendations are in place regarding even campaign contributions.

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