Bar Association to launch internal investigation of sexist allegations

The New Jersey State Bar Association says they will conduct their own investigation into claims that one of their members used sexist language while interviewing a woman under consideration for a Superior Court judgeship.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to investigate claims by Judge-designate Cathy Wasserman that an attorney who met with her as a representative of the bar association asked her if she intended to be a bitch if she were to get to the bench. 

“The New Jersey State Bar Association holds fast to the ideals of the fair administration of justice and due process, and does not tolerate or condone offensive behavior under any circumstance,” said Allen Etish, the state bar president. “At no time before today’s Senate Judiciary Committee did the Association learn about the use of any alleged offense language, which we join the Senate Judiciary Committee in condemning,”
Wasserman’s complaint represents the second attack this week on a compact between the governor and the New Jersey State Bar Association in reviewing judicial nominees.  There are allegations that the bar group torpedoed the nomination of Arthur Marchand, a former county prosecutor, to a Superior Court judgeship in Cumberland County.  Instead, Marchand was named to the Workers Compensation Court.

Gov.-elect Christopher Christie has not said if he would continue to allow the bar association to interview judicial candidates and allow their recommendation to essentially blackball a potential nomine.  The agreement was forged by Gov. Richard Hughes in 1969 and has been used by every governor except Christine Todd Whitman.

Etish said that the compact has resulted in a substantial benefit to the public.

 “We do not believe the behavior of one individual – if the accusations are proven true – should affect the Committee’s role in the vetting of judicial and prosecutorial candidates,” Etish said. “Over the past 50 years, the Committee has conducted hundreds of interviews — including 60 since last June — with the sole aim of providing insight and guidance to the Governor in order to find the best possible candidates to serve in our justice system.”

Bar Association to launch internal investigation of sexist allegations