Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick is facing criticism from his Democratic opponents for his refusal to call for the resignations of two Superior Court Judges under fire for comments made about separate allegations of rape involving minors.
Bramnick told the Star-Ledger last week that while he found comments made by Marcia Silva and James Troiano “extremely disturbing,” he wants to wait until the judicial ethics processes is completed before asking the judges to resign.
That puts Bramnick on the opposite side of nearly two dozen legislators, including Senate President Steve Sweeney, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who have called for the resignations of Silva and Troiano.
“The facts of this case are crystal clear to anyone who reads a newspaper. The young women in these cases were victimized twice – once by their rapists and again by the judges who minimized their Trauma,” said Lisa Mandelblatt, one of the Democratic Assembly candidates challenging Bramnick in the 21st district. “Judges like Silva and Troiano do not belong in public office, nor do politicians like Jon Bramnick who refuse to take action to remove them.”
Former New Providence Democratic Municipal Chair Stacey Gunderman, who is running with Mandelblatt, says that “as a mother of two young boys, my sons need to know that there are severe and concrete consequences to their actions.”
“Judge Troiano put the ‘potential’ of the abusers future above the value of the life of the victim and Judge Silva refused to try the rapist as an adult because she felt his crime was not ‘an especially heinous or cruel offense,’” Gunderman said. “It sickens me that these judges are still on the bench and that my opponent will not call for their removal. All three of them need to go.”
Bramnick has some political ties to Silva, who was the Republican candidate for State Assembly in the 18th district in 2011 while he was serving as the number two man in the GOP leadership.
Silva allowed the alleged 16-year-old assailant to be tried as a juvenile, a decision reversed by a state appellate court.
In her ruling, Silva said that even if the 12-year-old victim “did not suffer any physical or emotional injuries as a result, other than the ramifications of losing her virginity, which the court does not find to be especially serious harm in this case.”
Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz (R-Summit) said she supports the process used to determine if judges should be disciplined, but has a different view than Bramnick, her running mate.
“I support calling for their resignations,” Munoz told the New Jersey Globe. “We do not victim shame in New Jersey.”
Munoz was one of the sponsors of a law that requires judicial training on domestic violence issues and says she supports a similar proposal made by State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) to train judges on how to deal with the issue of sexual assault.
A nurse for the last four decades, Munoz has made the defense of women, children and families a focus of her time in the legislature. She recently served as vice chair of a legislative panel investigating the hiring of Al Alvarez by the Murphy administration after a campaign worker alleged that he raped her during the 2017 gubernatorial race.
Bramnick is a trial lawyer whose daughter-in-law was named to serve as a Superior Court Judge by Gov. Chris Christie during the 2017 lame duck session of the legislature.