Thirteen judges, including Joe Charles, could get caught in the middle of governor, senate president

The stalemate between Gov. Christopher Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) over a Supreme Court nomination could mean unemployment for thirteen Superior Court Judges whose terms expire before Labor Day.  Republicans suggest that Christie might not make any new judicial nominations until the Senate acts on his appointment of Anne Murray Patterson to replace New Jersey Supreme Court Associate Justice John Wallace.  Sitting Judges who are not confirmed by the Senate before the expiration of their current term must leave the bench immediately. 

Among the judges on the danger list is Joseph Charles, who spent 22 years representing Bayonne and part of Jersey City in the State Senate and General Assembly.  Charles quit the Senate in 2003 to take a judgeship.  His term expires on August 18.

Judge James Morley, who sits in Burlington County, might be on his way out anyway.  Morley has been in trouble since last year for comments he made at the sentencing of a 45-year-old teacher’s aide for having sex with a 16-year-old student and before dismissing animal cruelty charges against a former police officer for allegedly performing sex acts with calves.

During the sentencing of teacher’s aide, Donna Goebel, Morley said “But for the defendant’s status, there would be no crime here (because) the relationship was entirely consensual,” according to the Courier-Post.  He also noted that “It’s possible she just wanted to be around someone who was nice to her and got caught up in something she shouldn’t have.”

Morley made national headlines when he threw out animal cruelty charges against suspended Moorestown Police Officer Robert Melia – who is facing much more serious charges of assaulting three young girls – because it was unclear if the sexual contact he engaged in with calves “tormented” or “puzzled” them.

“If the cow had the cognitive ability to form thought and speak, would it say, ‘Where’s the milk? I’m not getting any milk,'” he said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

Other judges in danger of getting caught in the middle of the Christie/Sweeney crossfire: Dennis Carey (Essex, 7/17); Frank Ciuffani (Middlesex, 6/30); Bernadette DeCastro (Hudson, 7/24); John Kennedy (Essex, 7/15); Honora O’Brien Kilgallen (Monmouth, 6/17); Julie Marino (Somerset, 6/27); Diane Pincus (Middlesex, 7/8); Joseph Rea (Middlesex, 6/25); Raymond Reddin (Passaic, 8/20); and Ramona Santiago (Essex, 6/17).

A judge whose term expires could be eventually reappointed to the bench, but would not have tenure unless the win a third reappointment seven years later.

"New Jersey hasn’t heard the last of Brian Goldberg. Or maybe New Jersey will be hearing about him for the first time."
—NJ Media Advance for NJ.com's "The Auditor," on the Essex Republican's new PAC