Superior Court Judge, Liliana DeAvila-Silebi, sitting in Passaic County, was removed from the bench yesterday. Previously, Judge DeAvila-Silebi was the Presiding Judge for the Criminal Part in Bergen County from 2010-2015. She was then transferred to Passaic County where she sat in the Civil Part. Since June of this year, she has been suspended without pay due to her involvement in her Judicial Clerk’s custody matter.
As is often the case in custody matters, one parent will attempt to manipulate the judicial system in order to gain advantage in his or her quest to be the Parent of Primary Residence. Usually, the manipulation involves allegations of domestic violence of one spouse against the other or the filing an unsubstantiated Tevis claim to gain leverage. While these litigation tactics may seem underhanded, they are legal. The issue in this case is that The Honorable Liliana DeAvila-Silebi used her position as a Judge to manipulate the custody of child. On May 9, 2015 Judge DeAvila-Silebi called the Fort Lee Police Department, stated she was on emergent duty and arranged to have her clerk’s child picked up by the police. Later, the Judge denied the allegations, stating she was being impersonated which was proven to be untrue. In addition, the investigation uncovered 24 text messages between the Judge and her previous clerk in connection to the matter. While, technically, Judge DeAvila-Silebi did not do anything illegal so she has not been charged criminally, she subsequently was charged by the Advisory Committee on Judiciary Conduct “with engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, failing to conform to the high standards of conduct expected of judges, impugning the integrity of the judiciary, failing to avoid the appearance of impropriety and lending the prestige of her office to the benefit of another.” Booth, Michael, “Judge Removed From Bench for Meddling in Custody Case, Lying During Investigation”, New Jersey Law Journal, September 26, 2018. Ultimately, on September 26, 2018, Chief Justice Rabner signed an Order removing Judge DeAvila-Silebi from the bench.
As is very clear by the Advisory Committee’s investigation, custody matters can become very complicated, very quickly. We at Lyons & Associates, PC can help guide you through the tumultuous custody process. The attorneys at Lyons & Associates pride ourselves on giving sound advice in many areas, including custody. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail or call our office at 908-575-9777.
Written by: ChrisAnn Wright, Esq.