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Township’s Presiding Municipal Court Judge Claims No Sexual Innuendo In Court Comment

The township’s presiding Municipal Court Judge denies that a comment he made to a defendant in December 2017 was sexual in nature and violated any judicial ethics rules that would require formal discipline.

Judge Hector Rodriguez in December 2018 was hit with charges that he violated three tenets of the state Judicial Canon of Ethics. The charges stem from a comment he made to a female defendant during an appearance before him.

According to the complaint from the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, the woman seemed confused about whether she was going to need to pay any bail. She asked Hernandez if she owed anything, to which he replied, “Not that you can do in front of all these people, no.”

According to the complaint, the Assistant Prosecutor, the Public Defender and the court employee recording the hearing all felt the comment was sexual in nature and made the complaint.

In his response, filed on Jan. 7, Rodriguez denied there was any sexual innuendo in his comment, and added that if he did violate any of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, he did not do so to an extent that would warrant formal discipline.

When he replied to the defendant’s question, “he was reiterating that she need not make a payment to secure bail,” according to his response.

Rodriguez lists three mitigating factors for his defense, including that he “has a good reputation and character,” and that he “respects and complies with the law and acts in a manner that promotes confidence in the judiciary.”

Rodriguez claims that he is “respectful, courteous and informative to those he deals with in a judicial capacity,” and that he “works hard, is caring and passionate about litigants, handles cases efficiently and effectively reduced the backlog in Franklin Township.”

“Respondent’s reputation in the community is a judge who is professional, comforting and well-liked by all attorneys and litigants who come in to his court,” according to the response.

The other mitigating factors listed by Rodriguez in his defense are that the defendant never complained about the comment, and that it was an isolated incident.

Rodriguez asks that the complaint be dismissed.

The Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct will now set a hearing date on the complaint.

 

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