A judge who brought criminal contempt charges against two lawyers for violating a sealing order — and battled a prosecutor’s attempt to drop the charges after the sealing order was vacated on appeal — has taken himself off the litigation that set off the imbroglio.

In a letter to counsel in Lederman v. Prudential and 11 consolidated cases, Superior Court Judge Theodore Winard of Essex County, N.J., said, “I am recusing myself sua sponte. I think in the interests of justice it would be better to have a different judge manage this case from this point forward.”