When New Jersey Judges get in trouble, their colleagues may tend to go a little easy on them. Superior Court Judge Rosemarie Williams, arrested from drunk driving in December, received the minimum sentence yesterday from Judge John Sweeney, a $631 fine and loss of her license for seven months. Five years ago, Williams was suspended from the bench for three months after a fight with her then-boyfriend. She claimed that she was suffering from battered woman's syndrome.
Administrative Law Judge Florence Schreiber Powers was convicted of shoplifting a pair of $29 watches from T.J. Maxx in Lawrenceville. Powers, the daughter of retired state Supreme Court Justice Sidney Schreiber, admitted that she stole the two watches but claimed diminished mental capacity. A psychologist who testified at her trail outlined nineteen different stresses, including an "ungodly" vaginal itch.
Among the other reasons the Judge lifted the two watches, according to a Star-Ledger report: menopausal hot flashes, a bad rash, a toilet that would "not stop flushing," problems with a wallpaper job that caused her to file a lawsuit, proposed dental surgery, preparations for her parents wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving dinner (she had twenty guests), holiday shopping (she needed to buy 200 gifts), a traffic accident that caused her to miss two weeks of work and buy a new car, and selling her house without the services of a realtor.
A Superior Court Judge found her guilty after a two-day trial, but said a $250 fine was sufficient punishment. '"I find no reason to believe that defendant cannot continue to perform the functions and duties of her office in a manner consistent with her oath," said Judge Samuel Lenox. "Indeed, this experience will probably cause her to perform at an even higher level of dedication than she has in the past."
The Office of Attorney Ethics took no disciplinary action against Powers. Still, Governor Jim Florio declined to reappoint her to the bench. Powers has returned to public life: she now works for the state as the Assistant Chief of the Municipal Court Services Division of the Administrative Office of the Court.
Robert Clifford pled guilty to DWI in 1989 while he was still serving as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court He was arrested again for DWI in 2000 when his vehicle struck a small bridge in his hometown, Bernards. Because Clifford's earlier conviction was more than ten years ago, the law allowed him to be viewed as a first-time offender. According to the Star-Ledger, "five state judges have been sanctioned by the Supreme Court following drunken driving convictions. Three were publicly reprimanded, one was censured and one was suspended for 60 days after he was convicted of a second driving-while-intoxicated charge."
For Six-Degrees of Separation players: Williams served as Deputy Attorney General under Florio and Sweeney, a former Assemblyman, was Florio's Chief Counsel.