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Judicial conduct panel recommends removal for Union County Judge

ACJC finds Theresa Mullen repeatedly breached judicial code during dispute, lawsuit with St. Theresa School

By Nikita Biryukov, February 04 2021 3:33 pm

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct recommended the state Supreme Court remove a Union County Superior Court judge who is accused of lacking candor during a trial that ended with her convicted of defiant trespass Thursday.

The panel is recommending Judge Theresa Mullen be stripped of her position over a series of alleged judicial code violations stemming from a 2016 lawsuit filed by Mullen’s husband that sought to force the St. Theresa School to allow her daughter to play on the boys’ basketball team because there was no girls’ team.

The school’s rules say parents who bring the school into a legal matter must remove their children from its rolls, and Mullen’s daughter and her sister were expelled. A day after the expulsion, Mullen got into an altercation that with school officials and police on school grounds that lasted for more than an hour.

The judge who presided over Mullen’s defiant trespass trial said she lacked credibility, a stance echoed by an appeal panel that upheld her conviction.

The ACJC found Mullen’s testimony at trial — and before the panel — diverged sharply from other witness accounts.

“The Committee’s findings and the evidence of record likewise demonstrate, clearly and convincingly, that Respondent lacked candor when testifying before this Committee in defense of these ethics charges,” the ACJC said in its presentment.

Officers involved in the incident testified they would have arrested other parents who behaved as Mullen and her husband had were it not for her position as a judge and his position as a former Kenilworth Police captain.

The panel also said Mullen was less than candid during a deposition in a civil suit her husband brought against the school and the Archdiocese of Newark, further charging she abused her judicial position when the court attempted to sanction her for obstructive behavior.

The judge more than once failed to appear for a court-ordered deposition. When she did eventually appear at a deposition on July 26 ,2017, Mullen refused to answer almost all of the questions posed to her.

She also refused to leave to room when it came time for her husband’s testimony. Her attorney argued Mullen would not interfere with her husband’s deposition because she was a Superior Court judge, but the trial court ordered her out of the room.

Mullen also claimed her position as a judge allowed her to refuse any questions of a personal nature during a July 31, 2017 deposition, a position the court again declined to support.

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