NEWARK, NJ - A municipal court judge in Newark faces ethics charges over allegedly incarcerating a woman who he said was "disrespectful" during a court appearance that involved a landlord-tenant dispute.
The Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct last month filed the complaint against Newark Municipal Court Judge Marvin Adames. The complaints says Adames ultimately had the woman jailed for 23 days while she awaited a contempt of court hearing.
In 2016, Linda Lacey appeared before Adames to face a petty disorderly persons charge in a landlord-tenant dispute, the complaint says. As attorneys were discussing an issue about how Lacey did not allow the landlord to show the property, which was listed for sale, the complaint says Adames remarked that she should have a psychological evaluation.
“‘I'm starting to believe, based on my experience, that you have some mental condition, and if l believe so, and I feel as though you're disrespecting the court, I'll hold you in contempt,’” the complaint says Adames said. “‘I'll send you to the County. I'll have them do an evaluation so I make sure if you need medication and clear your mind, you do that and you're before me with your mind clear and straight. You understand me?’”
Adames did not have an attorney listed in the judicial committee complaint. The judge could not be reached when TAPinto Newark called the municipal court.
The complaint states that the judge saw Lacey "violently yank" a pen out of a court employee’s hand. He then told her, "You must have some mental condition ma'am. You've been disrespectful."
Adames told Lacey that he intended to hold a contempt hearing to address her snatching the pen before she was removed from the courtroom. Lacey's attorney, after speaking to her, told the judge that it was a "very emotional day" for his client, according to the complaint.
When Lacey was brought back, she told the judge she never meant to disrespect the court and that “if you feel that way I apologize,” according to the complaint.
Lacey appeared before the same judge again about a month later on Dec. 16, 2016. Her attorney requested to be relieved as counsel. Adames approved her attorney's request, but never asked Lacey if she wanted a public defender. She continued the hearing without one, the complaint says.
Adames, according to the complaint, brought up the landlord-tenant issue again, even though the matter wasn't before him. He then ordered Lacey be detained while she awaited a contempt hearing because of "her actions in court over the course of the time."
He set bail for her, which Lacey did not pay. Adames also ordered her to undergo a psychological evaluation while she was in the Essex County Jail, the complaint says.
The psychological evaluation had not been done by the time of the first hearing on Dec. 23, so Adames rescheduled her next court appearance for about two weeks later, the complaint says.
Adames commented at the next hearing that Lacey had been in custody "longer than [she] probably should have," the complaint says. Adames released her from jail.
The judge did not hold her to any bail, ended any further contempt hearings for her and dismissed the criminal complaint in the landlord-tenant dispute. He also noted that Lacey had "suffered quite a bit already" since she sat in jail throughout the holidays.
The judge told the advisory committee that he ordered jail for Lacey while she awaited her contempt hearing because he was concerned she wouldn't come back to court. He said "the eviction appeared certain and her whereabouts would be in question."
The mayor’s office appointed Adames to his post in 2012, records show. He previously served as a municipal prosecutor in Newark and was an assistant Essex County prosecutor, according to an article from his alma mater.