Mercer County, N.J.’s presiding Criminal Part judge admits it was a mistake to order his cousin released from jail, but he says it was due to a failure to immediately appreciate the degree of consanguinity.

In an answer to ethics charges filed by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, Gerald Council said he initially thought his kinship to defendant Celeste Jones was too distant to warrant recusal. Only after he was charged with ethics violations did he learn she was his second cousin, close enough to warrant recusal under court rules, according to his answer made public Tuesday.

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