A Superior Court Judge who said she was unconvinced that a 12-year-old sexual assault victim suffered physical, mental or emotional injuries – other than the loss of her virginity — will not be renominated for a tenured term, the New Jersey Globe has learned.
Superior Court Judge Marcia Silva will be forced to depart the bench at the end of her current seven-year term on January 17, 2021.
Silva was notified of Murphy’s decision today.
State Sen. Samuel Thompson (R-Old Bridge) said he has already halted signoffs on gubernatorial nominations unless Gov. Phil Murphy moves some of his nominees and on other Republicans across the state.
“They have already stopped,” Thompson told the NJ Globe. “Several appointments have already been held up, including a number of Democratic judges that are hanging out there.”
Thompson said his decision was unrelated to Silva.
As the 12th district senator, Thompson has senatorial courtesy over all Middlesex County nominations, and over nominees from municipalities he represents in Monmouth, Burlington and Ocean counties.
That puts the Republican senator in a position to shut down some major Democratic nominations.
There are still two months remaining in Silva’s term and circumstances could change.
There is a back door to Silva remaining on the bench.
Sources with direct knowledge of the judicial nomination process told the NJ Glove that Silva could be nominated for a new, untenured term on the Superior Court, one that would force the judge to come up for renomination in seven years.
If Silva receives tenure, she could remain on the bench until she reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2044.
According to Thompson, the New Jersey Bar Association has approved Silva’s renomination. He may have been referring to her original confirmation, since the bar only reviews candidates who are submitted by the governor.
In June, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct declined to launch disciplinary proceedings against Sila, who refused to try the 16-year-old who assaulted the victim as an adult.
The panel reached its decision after an informal conference with Silva during which the judge explained the reasoning behind the wording of her opinion, which was not meant to be made public.
“Had I ever imagined that it would be put out to the public, I certainly would have put in there what I’m telling you today, which is that every rape, including statutory rape of a 12-year-old, is heinous,” Silva said.
More than 20 state lawmakers called for Silva’s resignation after the opinion was made public in 2019, including Senate President Steve Sweeney.
At the time, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin also called for Silva’s ouster and refused to rule out impeachment proceedings against Silva.
In 2011, Silva was the Republican candidate for State Assembly in the Middlesex-based 18th district against incumbents Peter Barnes and Patrick Diegnan.
In that race, the Democratic mayor of East Brunswick Mayor, David Stahl, crossed party lines to endorse Silva, his law partner.
Silva and Stahl where married the following year.
Republicans recruited Stahl to switch parties and run for an open State Senate seat in 2013 against Barnes, who was looking to replace State Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), the Democratic candidate for governor.
Two sources at the highest possible level on the Republican side confirmed that part of the deal with Stahl was a judgeship for Silva. Christie later nominated her and she took office in early 2014.
Stahl later resigned as mayor and is now a municipal court judge in Woodbridge, Coughlin’s hometown.
Two other judges who faced criticism for remarks in sexual assault cases are already gone.
James Troiano refused to try a 16-year-old boy accused of raping 16-year-old girl and sending a videotape of the assault to his friends as an adult. In his decision, Troiano said he worried that doing so would imperil the alleged rapist’s future.
Troiano ended is service on the bench in July 2019.
In May, the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the removal of Superior Court Judge John F. Russo, Jr., who asked an alleged rape victim if she attempted to close her legs to fend off the assault.
Both judges were former Republican mayors – Troiano in Cedar Grove and Russo in Toms River.
This would be the third sitting judge this year not to be renominated by Murphy.
In March, the NJ Globe reported that Superior Court Judge Linda Mallozzi was not being asked back. Superior Court Judge Carlia Brady’s term lapsed in April. She faced fire for not reporting her live-in boyfriend to police after being told he was wanted for robbing a pharmacy.