Court acts against NJ judges for remarks in sexual assault cases

New Jersey Supreme Court recommends removal of judge who told alleged rape victim to ‘close your legs

New Jersey Supreme Court recommends removal of judge who told alleged rape victim to ‘close your legs

State officials hope the education conferences "will serve to enhance understanding of the complexities and nuances associated with sexual assault, sex offenses, and domestic violence matters and to raise awareness of the impact of implicit bias on decision-making, while providing skills for judges to recognize and respond to their preconceptions".

"Every effort must be made not to re-victimize a victim", Rabner wrote.

A New Jersey Judge resigned on Wednesday following the fallout over comments he made back in 2018, saying that a 16-year-old boy should receive leniency because he came from a "good family" and got good grades.

"While we have the utmost respect for the Family Court and the judge in this case, we are grateful that the Appellate Division agreed with our assessment that this case met the legal standards for waiver to Superior Court", Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement. It was not clear in court documents where in New Jersey the alleged assault took place.

"The comments were victim-blaming and a manifestation of the fears that many survivors have when deciding how they want to proceed in the aftermath of an assault", the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault said in a statement last week referring to the cases before Judge Troiano and Judge Silva. "New Jersey's judiciary has always been held up by observers across the nation as a model for other states", he said in a statement. "Without question, it is a most serious matter". "Close your legs?" he asked her.

Superior Court Judge John Russo got the ax Wednesday after asking a rape victim in 2016 whether she attempted to keep her legs closed during her alleged assault.

The judges' actions, he said, had threatened New Jersey courts' reputation "for thoughtful and reasoned opinion, and common decency".

Now the state Supreme Court has stepped in with rare actions and an initiative to better prepare judges for such cases. At a hearing before the Supreme Court this month, Russo's attorney said he was remorseful and had "learned his lesson".

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In making his decision past year, Judge Troiano appeared to question the girl's level of intoxication, cited the boy's good grades and college prospects and drew distinctions between sexual assault and the "traditional case of rape" at gunpoint. There are now 63 judges on recall in state Superior Court.

Silva, in a ruling overturned on appeal last month, told prosecutors that a 12-year-old alleged victim had lost her virginity, but had suffered no "physical or emotional injuries".

Judge Troiano declined to comment through a family member. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). "The comments and behavior of Judges Russo and Troiano were inexcusable and neither of them should remain on the bench".

The committee could recommend to suspend, censure or remove Silva after its investigation.

The state Supreme Court said in a statement regarding the decision that "it is appropriate for the Court to consider the full range of potential discipline, up to and including removal from office" because of the "seriousness" of the ethical violations.

"We can't do a Donald Trump here and start attacking institutions", the Democratic governor said on WBGO public radio, referencing the Republican president he often criticizes.

Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said "State has a strong interest in protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence".

State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Passaic) who previously had announced plans to introduce a bill requiring such training for judges, commended the judiciary for "taking seriously the concerns that many of us have raised regarding the abhorrent treatment of sexual assault victims in our state's courtrooms".

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