New Jersey's 16th Legislative District

Senator Kip Bateman

Senator Kip Bateman

Bateman/Ciattarelli Fight to Hold Judges Accountable for Violations of Public Trust

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Effort Launched in Response to Judge’s Questionable Actions Following South Brunswick Affordable Housing Ruling

Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli announced that they are exploring solutions to prevent judges from violating the public’s trust after they leave the bench.

Bateman and Ciattarelli (R-16) are taking action in light of reports that just days after retiring, a Superior Court judge began working for a real estate developer who could benefit financially from the judge’s recent decision to drastically increase South Brunswick’s affordable housing obligations.

Following reports that an NJ Superior Court judge began working for a real estate developer who could benefit from one of his rulings, Sen. Kip Bateman and Asm. Jack Ciattarelli are taking action to prevent judges from violating the public’s trust. (©iStock)

“At the very least, Judge Wolfson’s actions have cast a shadow on an affordable housing ruling that could decimate South Brunswick,” Senator Bateman said. “Now our fear is that the apparent personal benefit he stands to derive from that ruling will also damage the general public’s trust in the judiciary as a whole. New Jersey residents should not have to question whether court decisions are made impartially and in the interests of justice.”

“The New Jersey Supreme Court should honor its responsibility to regulate judicial conduct by taking a hard look at what happened in South Brunswick,” Assemblyman Ciattarelli said. “If no violations are found, then the Supreme Court should take this opportunity to evaluate whether the rules need to change. The Court would be wise to consider regulations that at the very least impose a ‘distancing period’ before former judges can appear back in court on matters that allow them to benefit from their own previous rulings.”

Supporters of the South Brunswick affordable housing ruling and former Judge Wolfson argue that the judge was not in the wrong, despite the appearance of impropriety. The New Jersey Supreme Court is charged with developing codes, standards and regulations for attorney and judicial conduct.

Bateman and Ciattarelli expressed that they are committed to finding solutions that ensure the Judiciary and former judges are held to the highest ethical standards possible. Such standards are necessary to ensure that judicial decisions serve the best interest of our community, not our judges, they added.

The Legislators represent multiple communities, including South Brunswick, that have fallen victim to burdensome and unnecessary affordable housing court rulings. Both have for years sponsored comprehensive affordable housing reform legislation, including a bill addressing the “gap period” obligations that are now putting even more communities at risk Statewide. Repeated attempts to urge the Senate Majority to take up affordable housing reform have been blocked.

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