Former Superior Court Judge Theresa Mullen is permanently barred from serving as a judge in New Jersey, the state Supreme Court ordered today, after finding that she violated the Code of Judicial Conduct during a 2016 incident at a parochial school attended by her daughters.
Mullen’s seven-year term ended on October 22, 2021, and Gov. Phil Murphy didn’t renominate her. It took the Supreme Court nearly five years to arrive at its decision.
The Union County judge accused the school of retaliation following a lawsuit against the school in a bid for her daughter to play on the boys’ basketball team. There was no girls’ basketball team at the school.
The school’s rules require parents who drag it into legal matters to remove their children from its rolls. As a result, Mullen’s two daughters were expelled. Mullen got into an altercation with school and police officials on school grounds the following day.
The melee ended with a charge of defiant trespass filed against Mullen. The judge in that trial said Mullen lacked credibility — a point agreed to by an appellate panel that upheld her conviction.
The Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct also found her hard to trust, noting her testimony diverged sharply from other witness accounts. The panel found the same lack of candor in the civil case her husband brought against the school and the Archdiocese of Newark and that she had abused her position as a judge.
While the Supreme Court found Mullen violated five ethical canons “beyond a reasonable doubt,” they also cleared her of one count of the complaint. The Court found that the trial court have Mullen the chance to sit at the counsel’s table during the civil proceeding, saying her presence there didn’t violate any ethics code.