The husband of censured municipal court judge Cecilia Sardina Guzman contributed $1,000 to mayor Andre Sayegh’s campaign a month after she was successfully re-appointed to the Paterson Municipal Court by the mayor.
Nestor Guzman, the husband, made the donation on October 28, 2020, according to campaign finance reports. His wife, who was first appointed by mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in 2014, was successfully re-appointed by Sayegh in September 2020.
Sayegh has been silent on the issue and has refused to call for her resignation. He told the Paterson Press, which first reported the campaign donation on Saturday, he is relying on chief municipal judge Abdelmageid “John” Abdelhadi to determine the next steps.
Guzman, the wife, was censured by the Disciplinary Review Board of the Supreme Court of New Jersey on September 15, 2020 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.
The disciplinary decision came after she was re-appointed. The City Council approved her re-appointment in early September last year. It’s not clear whether anyone in the municipal government knew about the pending complaint against her.
Sayegh has hired and appointed lawyers disciplined by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Law director Farrah Irving was reprimanded for “unethical conduct” by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2018. Municipal court judge Xavier Rodriguez was admonished by the Supreme Court in 2008.
Guzman, the wife, was ineligible to practice law from October 22, 2018 through October 17, 2019, according to a new complaint filed by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct two weeks ago. 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, the husband, has also contributed to the campaigns of former mayor Torres and state senator Nellie Pou. Pou served as the business administrator under Torres when the municipal court judge was appointed.
The complaint says Cecilia Sardina Guzman continues to serve on the municipal courts in Paterson and Dover.
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Updated 11:45 a.m.