On Monday, February 12, 2024, Superior Court Judge Douglas H. Hurd filed his response to the ethics complaint filed against him by the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

The complaint, filed on January 30th, alleged that Judge Hurd violated judicial ethics rules by allowing his secretary, L.C., to work remotely for approximately five to six months in 2022 despite policies requiring the role to be filled in-person.

In his verified answer, Judge Hurd admitted to some of the basic facts of the complaint, such as permitting his secretary to work remotely on a periodic basis and acknowledging the existence of policies that barred remote secretarial work. However, he denied violating any of the Canons of the New Jersey Code of Judicial Conduct that were cited in the complaint.

Judge Hurd claimed that as the manager of his chambers, he believed he had the discretion to allow periodic remote work by his secretary. He emphasized that L.C. worked productively and remained available during her remote work periods. The judge also argued that if any misconduct occurred, it was merely an “honest mistake” made in good faith about the scope of his managerial discretion.

In addition to denying the alleged violations, Judge Hurd’s response provided mitigating factors for the committee to consider. It details his 22 years of exemplary service as a judge with no prior complaints and explains how permitting remote work ended immediately once he was informed he lacked such discretion.

Judge Hurd’s answer also praised his secretary, L.C., as a model employee who was highly respected and recognized for her work. It said she was chosen by the Assignment Judge to be head secretary for the vicinage.

If the committee continues pursuing discipline against Judge Hurd, the final decision will rest with the New Jersey Supreme Court. His response sets up potential defenses arguing any misconduct was minor and did not compromise his ability to serve impartially on the bench.

Judge Hurd has served on the Superior Court since 2009 after appointments by former Governor Jon Corzine. He continues presiding over civil cases in Mercer County and may remain on the bench until mandatory retirement in 2039.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.