A New Jersey municipal judge has been reprimanded by the state’s Supreme Court for violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Judge C. William Bowkley was sanctioned for agreeing to represent a woman in a divorce, after he had previously presided as judge in a dispute the woman and her husband litigated before him.
The Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct concluded that Bowkley breached four of the canons of ethics governing the conduct of judges:
- Canon 1, which mandates that a judge maintain high standards of conduct to ensure the independence and integrity of the bench
- Canon 2A, requiring that a judge behave in ways that promote the integrity and impartiality of the bench
- Canon 5A (3), holding that a judge cannot interfere with the proper administration of judicial duties, and
- Canon 5D (1), admonishing a judge to refrain from business or financial dealings that may indicate partiality or bias
According to reports, Bowkley entered into an agreement to represent Linda Mangan in a divorce proceeding. However, some time before that arrangement, when Bowkley was sitting as a judge, he heard an application for a temporary restraining order from Mangan against her then-husband, John Chibbaro. Bowkley apparently signed the TRO and issued a summons that Chibarro be arrested for harassment. Both parties filed claims for harassment and Bowkley arraigned them and postponed a ruling, requiring them to go to marital counseling. Sources say that less than a week later, Mangan hired Bowkley to represent her in the divorce, signing a retainer on January 14, 2013.
Chibbaro’s attorney, Joel Murphy, asked Bowkley to transfer the harassment cases to another judge, which he did. Bowkley was also asked to terminate his representation of Mangan, but failed to do so.
It is very rare that a Judge violates the code of conduct, but when it happens, the issues can be very serious.
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