What’s wrong with a judge discretely complimenting a civil servant witness in a guardianship case? Plenty, according to New Jersey’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, who have Superior Family Court Judge Joseph A. Portelli in their cross-hairs for passing a note to a family service specialist who was testifying, that read “You look nice today.”
He is also accused of inviting a deputy attorney general and her supervisor into his chambers during a break in court proceedings, putting his arm around the deputy AG’s shoulders and telling both of them they were doing a great job. On the same occasion he also said that he liked how she was “shoving it up the law guardian’s ass”.
Now the latter comment may be vulgar but is it really so outrageous that formal discipline is required?
Other allegations include Judge Portelli’s practice of making children more comfortable in his courtroom by inviting them to visit his chambers, engaging in small talk, and permitting them to sit behind the bench on his lap and use his gavel. On one occasion in 2013, Portelli invited a child to sit on his lap and then jokingly turned to a deputy attorney general who was present in the courtroom and said to her, “No…you can’t come and sit on my lap next.”
The judge, age 60, has been on the bench for nine years with an impeccable record and no complaints. Nonetheless the PC police say his comments show poor judgment and a lack of dignity and respect for his office.
Somebody needs to get a life!
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang