An Englewood Municipal Court judge bypassed courtroom procedure, cursed at a staffer and committed other violations that make her “a serious harm to the administration of justice,” a state judicial panel charged.
As a result, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended Aishaah Rasul, 64, without pay on Wednesday pending the results of an ethics hearing.
The complaint stems from a case in which a woman claimed two others assaulted her.
Rasul acquitted one defendant after a trial while not issuing a finding for the other – apparently so that woman’s entry in the state’s drug court program wouldn’t be affected, a complaint filed by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct alleges.
Instead, the complaint says, she placed the defendant on “in-house probation,” saying that she and the court would monitor her, and ordered staff not to document the disposition of the case, the complaint says.
Rasul, who was sworn into office as a part-time judge a year ago this month, also ordered the defendants to arrange a meeting at the courthouse to pay the victim directly in cash for property damage, even though she’d previously ordered both not to have any contact with her, it says.
“This procedure conflicted with not only the standing ‘No Contact’ orders, but with longstanding municipal court procedure, which provides for the payment of fees, fines and costs, in any form, to the court for distribution through the court’s automated case tracking system,” the ACJC contends. “There is no procedure by which the court could direct litigants to meet in the courthouse to exchange restitution payments.”
A court administrator advised Rasul that “there was no such thing as ‘in-house probation’ and that the defendants may not make restitution payments to the victim directly at the courthouse,” the complaint says.
“Admittedly agitated, [Rasul] told the court administrator to ‘get off [her] f*****g back,’” the complaint says.
After the victim told her she never got the money from the drug court defendant, Rasul called that woman and spoke to her mother, according to the ACJC.
The defendant then called the judge back and recorded the conversation, in which Rasul tried to press the defendant into paying compensation to the victim, the complaint says.
Rasul, who’s been an attorney nearly 30 years – and the city’s public defender for nine of them -- “demonstrated a lack of competence in the law,” abused her office and “contravened statutory requirements,” among other violations, the ACJC said.
By skirting courtroom procedure, she “obstructed the proper administration of justice,” and “allowed her concern for [one defendant's] status in drug court to influence her judicial decision-making,” the committee charged.
Cursing at the court administrator was “discourteous and inappropriate” and violated rules governing judge comportment, the complaint says.
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