Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge Theresa Mullen violated the Code of Judicial Conduct during an incident in 2016 at a parochial school where her daughters were enrolled, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled today.
On October 22, 2021, Mullen’s seven-year term expired, and Governor Phil Murphy did not renominate her. It took nearly five years for the Supreme Court to reach a decision.
The judge in Union County accused the school of retaliation after her daughter filed a lawsuit against the school in an effort to play on the boys’ basketball team. The school lacked a girls’ basketball team.
The school’s regulations stipulate that parents who involve the school in legal matters must remove their children from its rolls. Consequently, both of Mullen’s daughters were expelled. The next day, Mullen engaged in an altercation with school and police officials on school grounds.
Mullen was charged with defiant trespass following the melee. A panel of appellate judges upheld Mullen’s conviction on the basis that she lacked credibility, as stated by the trial judge.
In addition, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct found her untrustworthy, noting that her testimony diverged significantly from those of other witnesses. The panel found the same lack of candour in the civil case her husband brought against the school and the Archdiocese of Newark and concluded that she had abused her judicial position.
While the Supreme Court determined that Mullen violated five ethical canons “beyond a reasonable doubt,” one count of the complaint was dismissed. The Court determined that the trial court properly allowed Mullen to sit at the counsel’s table during the civil proceeding, as her presence did not violate any ethical code.