A judge probably shouldn’t frequent a strip club. Forget all the arguments about the morality of strip clubs, or the need for judges to adhere to higher standards, or how the human brain can’t sustain that many playings of Girls Girls Girls by Mötley Crüe, the place is just crawling with people bound to show up in your courtroom for one reason or another.
But if a judge is going to frequent a strip club, it’s hard to top this judge’s style. He allegedly leveraged his legal know-how into sleeping with a dancer. Not bad. Better yet, instead of the clap he earned only a disciplinary complaint.
There’s no justice in the champagne room…
Judge Roman Montes, the chief judge of the Elizabeth Municipal Court and a judge in the Rahway Municipal Court in New Jersey (of course), got hit with a formal complaint last week for failing to conduct himself in a manner befitting his office. But if judges can’t go to strip clubs, how can they scout the new bailiff talent? Stereotypical club DJs make for awesome courtroom entrances.
More specifically, Judge Montes was hanging out at (now I’m going to link to this, but recognize that it’s the site of a gentlemen’s club, so don’t click on it unless you’re prepared for everyone around you to hear stripper music) Breathless [NSFW], which is technically a Go-Go bar rather than a strip club. So maybe it’s unfair to use the term “stripper” here, but I feel comfortable generalizing scantily clad exotic dancers into homo stripperum. According to Google Maps, this is what this joint looks like:
Some really classy ladies must hang out in there.
In any event, while hanging out at this ersatz Bada Bing, Judge Montes allegedly met a dancer who recognized him as the judge presiding over her domestic abuse case.
The dancer had filed charges against her boyfriend and appeared in front of Judge Montes a couple weeks earlier. At this point the judge allegedly got her number, because he’s a boss.
Now here’s where the judge is kind of getting a bad rap. Assuming everything in the complaint is accurate, after realizing that his dancer/soon-to-be-something-more was litigating in front of him, he dutifully told court personnel to transfer the case to another court because of his encounter at Breathless. That seems like EXACTLY what he should have done. The fact that court personnel are painfully slow at their jobs in Rahway is not the fault of Judge Montes. (Well, actually it may be, since a previous clerk of his sued him for sexual harassment, so maybe he’s not running the tightest ship over there.)
While the transfer was still pending, Judge Montes allegedly continued making it rain knowledge, talking to the dancer about the case itself since he was not going to be her judge any more. According to the complaint, she asked him to come back and see her at the club. He asked her to dinner. Way to raise the stakes.
After the case was finally transferred and resolved, Judge Montes is alleged to have told another judge that he transferred the case because he “commenced an intimate relationship with the dancer that was sexual in nature.”
The complaint lists three ethical violations:
19. By knowingly engaging in a personal relationship with a victim in a matter pending before Respondent and prior to the final disposition of that matter, Respondent violated Canons 1 and 2A of the Code of Judicial Conduct in that he did not personally observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity of the Judiciary is preserved and did not act in a way that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary.
20. By engaging in extra-judicial activities with a victim of a legal matter pending before Respondent and prior to its final disposition in Clark, Respondent demeaned the judicial office in violation of Canon 5A(2) of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
I guess I’m on Judge Montes’s side here, because as he saw it, he engaged in a personal relationship with a victim in a matter NO LONGER pending before him. It’s kind of form over substance to say he should have held off for two weeks while the transfer went through.
And when we’re talking about strippers, it’s all about substance over superficiality.
As usual, the full complaint is available on the next page…