Thursday, June 18, 2015
P.M. VS. N.P. A-1947-12T2
P.M. VS. N.P.
In this appeal, plaintiff-wife argues the Family Part Judge, who decided a number of post-judgment motions, erred in denying her application to recuse himself. Plaintiff claims the judge's impartiality was tainted when his law clerk engaged in employment discussions with and ultimately accepted an offer of employment from the attorney who represents defendant-husband. Plaintiff claims defense counsel discussed employment opportunities with the judge's law clerk during the time in which the judge was managing this contentious post-divorce motion practice. Plaintiff also alleges the law clerk is related to the trial judge in some undisclosed degree of consanguinity, which the judge refused to clarify despite plaintiff's counsel's repeated requests.
We remand for the judge to address the Court’s concerns in Comparato v. Schait, 180 N.J. 90 (2004). The judge must then determine the extent to which his familial relationship with his law clerk created an appearance of impropriety under In re Reddin, 221 N.J. 221 (2015), DeNike v. Cupo, 196 N.J. 502 (2008), and Rule 1:12-2.