The suspension of Liliana DeAvila-Silebi, a Passaic County Superior Court judge who was tricked by someone posing as an attorney to help a mother in a custody case, was shifted to be one without pay on Tuesday, after the court began proceedings to remove her from her post last November.
DeAvila-Silebi called Fort Lee Police about a parenting time dispute between a former intern of her’s and the intern’s ex-husband. On the call, which was recorded, the judge told officers that she had seen a court order saying that her intern, who she did not name on the call, was supposed to have the couple’s child that weekend.
She also said she spoke to the intern’s attorney.
However, the former intern did not present that court order to police, nor had she retained counsel at that time. And, the judge later said that she had not seen the court order, instead claiming that it was read to her by the attorney.
When later confronted with these facts, the judge changed her story, saying the issue that prompted her intercession was not based on who was supposed to have custody of the child. Instead, she said, it was based on fear for the child’s safety.
However, DeAvila-Silebi told investigators in November 2015 that she did not recall having any concerns about the child’s safety.
A panel of three superior court judges commissioned look into the matter found that there was cause for DeAvila-Silebi’s removal, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Further arguments are scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13.
A presentment in the case filed late last October declared that punishment exceeding what might be considered ordinary for such misconduct was called for because the suspended judge exhibited “demonstrable and pervasive dishonesty during these ethics proceedings.”