Public Notices and Press Releases

Municipal Judge Faces Removal Following Ethics Violations

Morristown, NJ – R. Douglas Hoffman, a part-time judge of the Robbinsville Township municipal court, is facing removal from office following a recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. The Committee found that Judge Hoffman violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by providing and consuming alcohol with a subordinate employee and engaging in inappropriate, nonconsensual touching.

Key Details of the Case:

  • Incident Date: October 15, 2022
  • Location: Judge Hoffman's summer home on Long Beach Island
  • Involved Parties: Judge Hoffman and a subordinate municipal court employee

Allegations and Findings:

The Committee's findings, detailed in a formal presentment to the Supreme Court of New Jersey, outlined the following:

  1. Alcohol Consumption: Judge Hoffman provided and consumed substantial amounts of alcohol with the employee over a three-hour period. He admitted to drinking beer and whiskey with the subordinate, actions he later reluctantly acknowledged as improper.
  2. Inappropriate Touching: During their time together, Judge Hoffman touched the employee on her knee and inner thigh without her consent, actions deemed sexually suggestive and inappropriate. The employee reported feeling uncomfortable and upset by these actions.
  3. Procedural History: The matter was referred to the Committee by Mercer County Assignment Judge Robert T. Lougy after receiving a report from Robbinsville Township. Following an investigation, a formal complaint was filed on April 10, 2023, leading to a formal hearing held in October and November 2023.
  4. Hoffman's Defense: While Judge Hoffman admitted to the alcohol-related misconduct, he denied any improper intent behind the physical contact, arguing it was meant to be consoling. However, the Committee found his defense unpersuasive and his conduct to be a serious breach of judicial ethics.

The Committee concluded that Judge Hoffman's actions irreparably impugned his integrity and that of the judiciary. They recommended his removal from judicial office, citing his lack of remorse and the gravity of his misconduct.

The Supreme Court of New Jersey will review the Committee's findings and determine the final outcome of Judge Hoffman's judicial tenure.

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