The story of New Jersey Superior Court Judge Lawrence DeBello has the makings for a great romantic tale — the forbidden love between a judge and his law clerk.
From the New Jersey Law Journal:
A Mercer County, N.J., judge has admitted breaching judicial ethics and policies by sending romantic e-mails to his former law clerk via his judiciary e-mail account and by using his judicial office to help land her a public defender job.
The alluring law lovely, who has not been named, clerked for DeBello in Hudson County Family Court from 2006 through 2007. When she left, she and DeBello kept in touch, exchanging e-mails that discussed “personal matters” and used “offensive language”, according to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct complaint [PDF].
DeBello unwisely used his judicial e-mail account for their correspondence, rather than opening a firstname.lastname@example.org account. Even after being warned by his judicial superiors, DeBello could not keep his passion tamed:
DeBello admitted that at a December 2007 meeting with Hudson County Assignment Judge Maurice Gallipoli and Hudson County Trial Court Administrator Joseph Davis, he conceded the e-mails were inappropriate…. But after that meeting, the e-mails continued and even heated up. DeBello admitted that in December 2007 and mid-January 2008, he “participated in the escalation of the intimate tone and nature of those e-mail exchanges, which concerned their respective romantic feelings for one another.”
In January 2008, DeBello was transferred to Mercer County, but kept up the e-mails, trying to help the former clerk get a new job. He admitted he “used the power and prestige of his office” to advance her “private interests” by making an unsolicited telephone call to Deputy Public Defender Edward Marable — head of the Office of Law Guardian for the northwest region, who had appeared before him in court — telling him the former clerk was interested in a law guardian job.
Love obviously made this justice blind to the error of his ways. We just hope he got more than legal research out of his judicial Juliet.
DeBello has filed an answer [PDF] to the complaint which basically amounts to “Busted.” As Will S. said, the course of true love never did run smooth.
Judge Admits Ethics Breach Over Torrid E-Mails With Former Clerk [New Jersey Law Journal]
Judge Hit With Ethics Charges Over Steamy E-Mails With Former Clerk [New Jersey Law Journal]