On a presentment from the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct recommending removal.
Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Handler, Pollock, O'hern, Garibaldi, Stein, and Coleman join in the Court's opinion.
The Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct (ACJC) has conducted a formal hearing to consider charges alleging that Michael R. Imbriani (Respondent), formerly a Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, had engaged in conduct in violation of the New Jersey Constitution and various Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The ACJC issued its Presentment on December 28, 1994, finding that Respondent had violated Article 6, Section 6, Paragraph 6 of the New Jersey Constitution, and the following Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct:
Canon 1, which requires Judges to personally observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary may be preserved;
Canon 2A, which requires Judges to respect and comply with the law and to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary;
Canon 5C(1), which provides that a Judge shall refrain from financial and business dealings that interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties and exploit the judicial position;
Canon 5C(2), which provides that a Judge may not serve as an officer, director, manager, advisor, or employee of any business;
Cannon 6, which prohibits a Judge from receiving compensation for extrajudicial activities;
and [has] engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of Justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute. Rule 2:15-8(a)(6).
On the basis of the ACJC's Presentment, this Court on its own motion has filed a complaint permanently to remove Respondent from judicial office. See N.J.S.A. 2B:2A-3; R. 2:14-1. Respondent, who retired May 1, 1994, consents to his removal from judicial office.
The Presentment discloses that the ACJC, on the basis of clear and convincing evidence, made the following findings:
Around 1963, Respondent formed a corporation known as Community Medical Arts Building, Inc. (CMAB) and acquired 12.5 percent of the issued common capital stock. In about 1970, he transferred his stock in CMAB to his wife, Claire Imbriani. By 1982 that interest had increased to 40 percent of the stock in CMAB because several shareholders had been bought out and their shares retired. At present the balance of the CMAB stock is owned by three individuals.
Since the creation of CMAB in 1963, Respondent assisted in the management of the affairs of that corporation and its primary asset, an office building known as the Community Medical Arts Building, 515 Church Street, Bound Brook, New Jersey. He received rent checks from the corporation's bookkeeper, assisted the bookkeeper in the payment of the corporation's bills, and assisted the corporation's accountant in filing tax returns. He performed other miscellaneous services for the corporation and the office building, including handling maintenance.
Between April 30, 1989 and June 1992, Respondent obtained certain rent checks made payable to CMAB by tenants of the Community Medical Arts Building, endorsed them, and deposited them to his own accounts. Respondent ...