Monday, July 18, 2005

Critics sue to keep ex-judge off bench - New Jersey

Critics sue to keep ex-judge off bench


A coalition of critics of former state Judge Marianne Espinosa filed a lawsuit yesterday seeking to block her reappointment to the bench because the state Senate did not give sufficient public notice of its hearing on her nomination.

"Even if you think she was a good judge, nobody could say this was fair the way they went about this," said Princeton attorney David Perry Davis, who filed the suit in state Superior Court in Mercer County on behalf of the group. "It's just not fair to put somebody in power over the citizens without giving the citizens a voice."

The coalition, including advocates for the rights of fathers in divorce and custody cases, wants the court to postpone Espinosa's swearing-in ceremony and order the Senate to reconsider the nomination so that her critics may participate in a hearing.

An attorney for the Legislature, however, said the Senate was well within the law to suspend its usual rules and take up Espinosa's nomination on an emergency basis.

Dorsey, a Morris County Republican, said Espinosa was combative and disrespectful to attorneys and the public while on the bench. The judge also was criticized by groups that contended she showed a pro-wife bias while sitting in Family Court.

The seven plaintiffs include fathers' rights advocates Jeff Golden of Fathers' and Children's Equality of New Jersey; Gunnar Wahlstrom, president of the New Jersey Council for Children's Rights; and Dominick Romano of the Access Center Development.

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