Municipal court judge Cecilia Sardina Guzman, who was disciplined last year for misconduct, was ineligible to serve, according to a complaint filed by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.
Guzman was censured by the Disciplinary Review Board of the Supreme Court of New Jersey last September for gross neglect, lack of diligence, failure to communicate with client, negligent misappropriation of client funds, failure to abide by recordkeeping provisions, failure to withdraw from representation and refund unearned fees after discharged by client, and unauthorized practice of law by failing to maintain professional liability insurance while practicing as a limited liability company.
Guzman was ineligible to practice law from October 22, 2018 through October 17, 2019 because she failed to maintain an interest-bearing trust account to hold the funds and deposits of clients, according to the complaint filed on January 13. A New Jersey Supreme Court order requires attorneys to maintain such accounts or face being put on a list that renders them ineligible to practice law.
Guzman was placed on that list for failing to comply despite three written requests, according to the complaint. Guzman continued to represent clients and serve as judge in Paterson and Dover despite being ineligible to practice law.
She corrected the issued and submitted proper registration on October 17, 2019. She submitted a certification to the New Jersey Supreme Court admitting she failed to comply with the requirements of the IOLTA program on July 24, 2020.
The complaint says by serving as judge in Paterson and Dover municipal courts from October 22, 2018 through October 17, 2019, Guzman violated three rules – one that states a judge has to participate in “establishing, maintaining and enforcing, and shall personally observe, high standards of conduct so that the integrity, impartiality and independence of the judiciary is preserved” and another that states a judge has to “respect and comply with the law” and another that states a judge has to promote public confidence in the judiciary — in the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Guzman could not be reached for comments on Wednesday. Her office phone number states it’s out of service.
Guzman was appointed to the municipal court by former mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in 2014.
She remains as a judge at the Paterson municipal court, says the complaint.
Mayor Andre Sayegh did not respond to a message asking whether he intends to call for her resignation.
Email: [email protected]
Updated 6:32 p.m.