()

A New Jersey judge is denying that she violated ethics rules by becoming involved in a friend’s child custody case.

Essex County Family Part Judge Carolyn Wright said she was attempting to assist a family friend whose grandchild needed medical attention, and that she was attempting to resolve an issue of insurance coverage.

Wright made the explanation in an answer released by the state judiciary on Tuesday, which she filed in response to an ethics complaint lodged by the state Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct in May.

The alleged incident occurred on Aug. 5, 2016. ACJC Counsel Maureen Bauman said in the complaint that Wright accompanied an acquaintance named Benjamin Hayes to the Family Part intake unit to help him obtain paperwork to file for immediate custody of his grandchild.

During the course of the day, Wright and Hayes met with a number of officials in the intake unit, who attempted to help Hayes fill out the necessary forms, the complaint said.

At one point, Wright went to the judge who had been assigned to emergent duty that day: Judge Nora Grimbergen, the complaint said. Wright asked Grimbergen if she had time to hear a matter, but Grimbergen said she was “swamped” and did not have time to hear matters that were not properly before her, according to the complaint.

Wright told the other judge her nephew had a matter involving medical insurance, but Grimbergen instructed her to file an order to show cause, and Wright left, according to the complaint.

In her answer—filed by her lawyer in the matter, Joseph La Sala of Morristown’s McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter—Wright said she was assisting Hayes just as she would any other litigant.

And, Wright said, she repeatedly apologized to judges and court personnel for any inconvenience she might have been causing.

Intake officials questioned whether the matter should be docketed in Essex County, because of Wright’s relationship with Hayes, and the matter eventually was transferred to Hudson County, the complaint said.

The complaint charged Wright with failing to “conform to the high standards of conduct expected of judges” and impugning “the integrity of the judiciary,” in violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.1, and Canon 2, Rule 2.1, of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Wright, the ACJC charged, also “created the risk that her judicial office would be an influential factor in the processing of [Hayes'] application” to gain custody of his grandson. The complaint said that was a violation of Canon 2, Rule 2.3(a).

The complaint does not detail what level of discipline is being sought.

The matter is to be heard by the ACJC at a later date.

A New Jersey judge is denying that she violated ethics rules by becoming involved in a friend’s child custody case.

Essex County Family Part Judge Carolyn Wright said she was attempting to assist a family friend whose grandchild needed medical attention, and that she was attempting to resolve an issue of insurance coverage.

Wright made the explanation in an answer released by the state judiciary on Tuesday, which she filed in response to an ethics complaint lodged by the state Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct in May.

The alleged incident occurred on Aug. 5, 2016. ACJC Counsel Maureen Bauman said in the complaint that Wright accompanied an acquaintance named Benjamin Hayes to the Family Part intake unit to help him obtain paperwork to file for immediate custody of his grandchild.

During the course of the day, Wright and Hayes met with a number of officials in the intake unit, who attempted to help Hayes fill out the necessary forms, the complaint said.

At one point, Wright went to the judge who had been assigned to emergent duty that day: Judge Nora Grimbergen, the complaint said. Wright asked Grimbergen if she had time to hear a matter, but Grimbergen said she was “swamped” and did not have time to hear matters that were not properly before her, according to the complaint.

Wright told the other judge her nephew had a matter involving medical insurance, but Grimbergen instructed her to file an order to show cause, and Wright left, according to the complaint.

In her answer—filed by her lawyer in the matter, Joseph La Sala of Morristown’s McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter —Wright said she was assisting Hayes just as she would any other litigant.

And, Wright said, she repeatedly apologized to judges and court personnel for any inconvenience she might have been causing.

Intake officials questioned whether the matter should be docketed in Essex County, because of Wright’s relationship with Hayes, and the matter eventually was transferred to Hudson County, the complaint said.

The complaint charged Wright with failing to “conform to the high standards of conduct expected of judges” and impugning “the integrity of the judiciary,” in violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.1, and Canon 2, Rule 2.1, of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Wright, the ACJC charged, also “created the risk that her judicial office would be an influential factor in the processing of [Hayes'] application” to gain custody of his grandson. The complaint said that was a violation of Canon 2, Rule 2.3(a).

The complaint does not detail what level of discipline is being sought.

The matter is to be heard by the ACJC at a later date.