A split judicial conduct panel on Thursday recommended not to begin disciplinary proceedings against a New Jersey judge who referred to the alleged sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl as “not an especially heinous or cruel offense.”
Some public officials had called for state Superior Court Judge Marcia Silva to be removed from the bench after her comments were published last year. Silva wrote them in a sealed 2018 opinion denying prosecutors’ motion to have the 16-year-old suspect tried as an adult.
The panel wrote Thursday that Silva’s language was inappropriate but it noted she was legally required to explain if “the harm suffered by the victim was above, beyond and in addition to the inherent harm associated with the act itself” to determine if the case should be waived to adult court.
Rather than using “sensitive and conciliatory language,” Silva instead used “a more clinical, unemotional, perhaps even stoic legal evaluation,” the majority wrote.
Four members of the 10-member panel dissented and wrote that an appeals court’s reversal of Silva’s decision raised questions that should be addressed.
“In our view, this type of case should be heard and resolved through a public hearing that includes testimony and cross-examination, not following a private, informal conference,” they wrote.