NJ Judge Accused of Misconduct and Not Knowing the Law | Yoel Ackerman

Imagine walking into court to have a judge conduct your trial, but the judge doesn’t even know the law.

This is exactly the case with Judge Michael Kassel.

According to complaints, He repeatedly told litigants that he was unfamiliar with the law or the case. The Advisory Committee on Judicial Misconduct filed a formal complaint against Kassel recently accusing him of misconduct and violating his ethical duty as Judge.

Kassel, who usually works in Camden County’s civil division, was temporarily assigned to the family division in April 2021 and heard family court cases one day a week for a two month period. He was not familiar with family law and on one occasion Kassel is said to have informed litigants and present counsel that he “knew very little about the applicable laws” and advised they “treat [him] like I’m a ninth grader in high school.” During another court proceeding, Kassel remarked that “you could get a guy off the street that’s more experienced than me with this stuff.”

It is unclear how Judges get assigned to different civil divisions. The complaint against Kassel also alleges that he failed to wear the proper Judges robe, placed his feet on top of the judges desk at times, and also publicly commented on his opinions of the attorneys who came into his court.

Each year, about 400 misconduct complaints are filed against judges in New Jersey. Discipline can take the form of public reprimand, censure, suspension, or removal from the bench. It is rare that a judge will get removed from the bench though.

Kassel has 20 days to answer the committee’s charges, after which the committee may convene a formal hearing on whether to recommend discipline to the Supreme Court.

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  1. I’m actually in awe of this judge. Finally there’s an honest guy working in the justice system. The only gripe I might have with him is his public comments stating his opinions of the attorneys who came into his court room. Otherwise, he’s a breath of fresh air. He should get a medal, and he should be set as an example as a judge who has a unique character trait that many judges and prosecutors do not have: honesty.

  2. A bit more seriously, the issue for this guy was that he was assigned to hear cases in the family division after having served in the civil division. If he had no background in Family law, then the assignment was a bad move on the part of the the judicial administration. Having said that, it is still pretty shocking and way out of line to “go public” in court with your gripes the way this guy did. He deserves to be disciplined and reassigned back to a division where he knows the law.

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