The New Jersey Supreme Court has suspended East Orange Municipal Court Judge Steven Brister for one month without pay over comments he made during a domestic abuse case that created the appearance of gender bias.
Brister told a defendant accused of multiple instances of domestic violence to treat women “as if you’re holding a feather, just to let them know you’re the man and you’re in control.”
“We get frustrated with the women human beings. Because we try to straighten out a creation ‘cause they was created with a curve. But we as men, we think we above creation and we can straighten it out,” the judge said. “No matter how much you try, or how you try to straighten out that curve, you can never do it. We get frustrated and then but, in our frustration, you can’t come at them like you Mike Tyson and they’re in the ring like they’re Leon Spinks. You can’t do it.”
Brister told the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct that the “curve” was a reference to Christian creation myth, which says God created Eve from Adam’s rib.
The invocation of religion violates the state’s judicial rules, which require judges to avoid bias and the appearance thereof.
“The clear religious implications of Respondent’s remarks are equally inappropriate and wholly misplaced in a court of law,” the ACJC presentment said.
Brister admitted to the judicial code violations the ACJC claims he made, saying his comments were “well-meaning but undeniably misguided.”
The suspension will run from September 22 through October 22.
The ACJC filed its complaint against Brister in October 2020 and recommended in June that he receive a one-month suspension.