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ACJC charges Paterson, Dover judge for private practice missteps

By Nikita Biryukov, January 19 2021 5:38 pm

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct filed a complaint against a municipal judge in Paterson and Dover, charging she should be disciplined for her failure to deposit clients’ funds into an interest-bearing trust and failing to maintain professional insurance.

In January 2020, the state Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Review Board found Cecilia Sardina Guzman, a part-time municipal judge in both towns, admitted to the Office of Attorney Ethics a series of breaches that included gross neglect, failure to purchase professional insurance and clients’ money placed into incorrect accounts, among other things.

The high court censured her in January. The ACJC argues an agreement between Guzman and the Office of Attorney Ethics that preceded the Disciplinary Board’s findings in which she admitted to not have maintained insurance amounts to a breach of judicial code.

The ACJC also seeks to punish Guzman for not depositing clients’ funds into an interest-bearing trust. A Supreme Court order requires attorneys place clients’ money in such an account or be made ineligible to practice law.

Guzman was on a list of such attorneys between Oct. 22, 2018, and Oct. 17, 2019. Guzman continued to act as a municipal judge in Paterson and Dover during this time.

She admitted that breach to the Supreme Court in July.

Guzman was replaced in Dover.

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