A Jersey City municipal judge whose affair with a bailiff cost him his seat is asking a federal court to order state judicial officials to turn over records he hopes will bolster his claim that he was treated more harshly due to his race.
Wilson Campbell wrote on Oct. 12 to U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor, asking her to compel the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct to produce records he requested in a Sept. 12 subpoena, but did not get, in his discrimination suit, Campbell v. Supreme Court of New Jersey, 11-cv-555.
Central to the case is Campbell’s claim that he was treated more harshly than a white judge, Lawrence DeBello, who was censured in 2009. DeBello sent steamy emails to his former law clerk, which continued even after his assignment judge, Maurice Gallipoli, told him to stop. DeBello also used his judicial office to help the clerk get a job with the Public Defender’s Office.
DeBello remains a judge, assigned to Mercer County’s Family Part, while Campbell’s judgeship was terminated in October 2009.
Gallipoli, on learning that Campbell, who is black, had an affair with the white bailiff, suspended him and demanded his immediate resignation, despite a court policy declaring that consensual dating relationships between court employees “are generally not the Judiciary’s business.”
When Campbell refused to quit, Gallipoli allegedly induced the ACJC to charge him with engaging in an intimate relationship with a subordinate. The ethics case concluded on Jan. 28, 2011, with a reprimand.
Campbell’s federal suit originally named as defendants the Supreme Court, ACJC executive director John Tonelli, ACJC counsel Candace Moody and Gallipoli, but claims against all but Gallipoli were thrown out in March.
The ACJC responded to Campbell’s subpoena by providing him with the censure order, complaint, answer and presentment from the DeBello case.
Campbell complained to Waldor that the response was “grossly deficient” because he was given only publicly available documents but no emails, internal memoranda, letters, witness statements or notes. Nor did he receive emails sent or a statement given by Gallipoli, which Campbell called relevant to the “remarkably different treatment that Judge Gallipoli gave to Plaintiff in contrast to Judge DeBello for a consensual dating relationship with a court employee.”
Campbell’s letter cited State v. Clark, 191 N.J. 503 (2007), where the Supreme Court held that the ACJC had to comply with a prosecution subpoena for records on the investigation of a municipal judge who faced criminal charges over the same conduct.
The subpoena also sought ACJC documents relating to any investigation of Gallipoli as far back as 2000, but Campbell received only a statement that “[to] the extent any such records exist they would be confidential … and not subject to public disclosure.”
Campbell asserts that the ACJC waived its right to object to the request, saying it had 14 days to do so, but waited until Oct. 5 to object. At the very least, Campbell insists he is entitled to a privilege log.
Related Suit Against Former Firm
Campbell is also seeking help from the court on discovery in a separate lawsuit against his former law firm, Campbell v. Sedgwick Detert Moran & Arnold, 11-cv-642, which is assigned to the same judges, Waldor and U.S. District Judge Esther Salas.
Sedgwick fired Campbell on Feb. 5, 2009, two days after he informed the firm of the affair and the same day the ethics complaint against him was made public.
Campbell, who had worked for the firm at its Newark office since 2006, alleges he was told to resign or face termination and was given 30 minutes to collect his personal belongings before being escorted out of the building.
He sued the firm, its chairman, Michael Tanenbaum, and others, alleging race discrimination and retaliation over the firing and concerns he had allegedly expressed about the firm’s treatment of minority lawyers.
On Oct. 5, Waldor partially granted Campbell’s motion to compel discovery, ordering the firm to disclose documents concerning its employee discipline and affirmative action policies as well as any diversity studies or surveys it conducted.
But Waldor denied as overbroad a request for documents on any suits against the firm or internal complaints for discrimination or harassment or complaints of any sort against its lawyers since 2004. For the same reason, she denied interrogatories that sought information on severance pay and benefits paid to employees who resigned; records of discipline against any Sedgwick employee, and the disciplinary histories of Tanenbaum and the other individual defendants at any firm where they worked.
Following Waldor’s decision, Campbell wrote to her on Oct. 11, asking for a conference to discuss discovery and accusing Sedgwick Detert of withholding or destroying email evidence. The firm produced only six emails sent by him and two he received between Jan. 29, 2009, and Feb. 6, 2009, a period during which he claims to have sent and received about 100 messages.
Waldor has not responded to Campbell’s request in either case.
Sedgwick Detert’s lawyer, Joseph Guarino of Epstein Becker Green in Newark, declines comment, as does Gallipoli, now with Porzio Bromberg & Newman in Morristown. Gallipoli served as Hudson County’s presiding civil judge from 1988 to 2004 and as assignment judge from 2004 until his retirement earlier this year.
His lawyer, John Bowens of Schenck Price Smith & King in Florham Park, did not return a call. Nor did Campbell, now a solo practitioner in Newark.