On order to show cause why respondent should not be disciplined.
For verdict of guilty and reprimand -- Chief Justice Weintraub, and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Haneman. Opposed -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Schettino, J.
We issued an order to show cause, dated May 3, 1962, why respondent, a former magistrate, should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined and why he should not be held in contempt of the Supreme Court for violating Canon 28 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics which provides:
"While entitled to entertain his personal views of political questions, and while not required to surrender his rights or opinions as a citizen, it is inevitable that suspicion of being warped by political bias will attach to a judge who becomes the active promoter of the interests of one political party as against another. He should avoid making political speeches, making or soliciting payment of assessments or contributions to party funds, the public endorsement of candidates for political office and participation in party conventions.
He should neither accept nor retain a place on any party committee nor act as a party leader, nor engage generally in partisan activities."
R.R. 1:25 makes the Canons of Judicial Ethics govern the conduct of our judges, and R.R. 8:13-7 makes the Canons apply to magistrates as well.
Respondent is a member of the bar and had been Magistrate of Buena Vista Township from February 15, 1952, through February 26, 1962. Pursuant to an order of the Supreme Court, dated January 2, 1962, hearings were held by a Superior Court Judge on February 16, 20 and April 2, 1962, directed towards the following: (1) whether respondent was a political ward leader in the City of Vineland, or recognized as such; (2) his association and relationship with the Vineland Young Men's Republican Club of Cumberland County; (3) whether he had permitted the use of his home for the registration of voters; (4) whether he had been involved in alleged voter registration frauds; (5) whether he attended or participated in functions likely to be considered political, and in particular a certain function held at Sea Girt, New Jersey, on August 15, 1961, at which the Republican gubernatorial candidate and other candidates and party leaders from Cumberland County were in attendance; (6) whether he had signed and notarized petitions of candidates for members of the Republican Executive Committee; and (7) whether written statements which he made to the Administrative Director just before the order of January 2, 1962, were false and misleading.
The judge found (1) that respondent was in fact the ward leader of the sixth ward of Vineland from 1952 to 1955 and was probably recognized thereafter as the leader of this ward by persons uninformed politically, but found no direct evidence that respondent had done anything affirmatively in that connection since 1955; (2) that respondent was actively associated with the Vineland Young Men's Republican Club of Cumberland County from 1952 through 1955, although for a certain period of time it may have been in name only; (3) that respondent did in fact permit members of the Cumberland County Board of Elections to use his home for the purpose of registering voters in October 1955, at which time approximately
100 persons were registered during two or three evenings, and that he also assisted members of the Board of Elections by filling out questionnaires and obtaining signatures; (4) that the evidence did not support a finding that respondent was involved in any voter registration frauds; (5) that respondent attended the meeting of August 15, 1961, at Sea Girt, which, respondent admitted, was definitely political in nature; and (6) that respondent when he signed and notarized petitions of candidates for Republican members of the Executive Committee, did, in fact, engage in political activity. The judge made no clear finding as to the seventh item. Thereafter, on the basis of the hearings and the findings, we issued the order to show cause.
Respondent was appointed Magistrate of Buena Vista Township on February 15, 1952, for a term of three years and was reappointed for successive terms, the last reappointment for a term expiring February 15, 1964. He resigned on February 13, 1962, effective February 26, 1962.
Respondent is also engaged in practice in Vineland, New Jersey. He is City Solicitor of the City of Vineland, having been appointed July 1, 1960, for a term of four years. He has lived in the City of Vineland during his entire life, and since 1951 or 1952, he has resided with his family in the sixth ward of the city. Respondent was a founder of the Vineland Young Men's Republican Club of Cumberland County in 1952 and served as its first president. He was Assistant Prosecutor of Cumberland County from 1953 to 1957. He was State President of the New Jersey Junior Chamber of Commerce during the years 1953-1954. In varied degrees he has been otherwise active in the civic, public and political life of his community. In 1953 he received the Vineland Outstanding Citizen Award.
Respondent admits that while a magistrate he had been a ward leader in the City of Vineland until 1953 or 1954 and had been associated with the Vineland Young Men's Republican Club until November of 1955. But, he contends, all of ...