On Thursday, March 7, 2024, Douglas H. Hurd, the presiding judge on the Vicinage 7 Superior Court in New Jersey, filed an amended verified answer in response to the complaint brought against him by the New Jersey Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.

The case is entitled “In the matter of Judge Douglas H. Hurd,”  with case number ACJC 2023-140.

In his response, Judge Hurd denied all allegations against him and asserted multiple affirmative defenses. The complaint, filed in January, alleged Judge Hurd violated judicial ethics codes by permitting his secretary to work remotely for approximately six months in 2022 despite policies requiring the role be filled in-person.

Judge Hurd admitted some underlying facts such as a remote work policy being in place and his secretary, L.C., working from home periodically. However, he denied improperly using his power or violating any conduct canons. Hurd claimed he believed he had discretion as her manager to allow occasional telecommuting given L.C.’s excellent performance and work ethic.

The answer put forth several defenses, including that the complaint failed to demonstrate misconduct, and his conduct promoted confidence in the judiciary. Judge Hurd also stated if any errors were committed, they were honest mistakes made in good faith. He argued cases dictate minor misconduct does not require discipline.

Additionally, Hurd provided mitigating factors such as being open and cooperative throughout the inquiry, having an unblemished record over a 20-year career, and handling a large complex caseload efficiently. He highlighted L.C.’s strong reputation and that she was available during remote periods.

Judge Hurd requested the dismissal of all charges and a hearing should any issues require further examination. He designated private attorney Thomas Scrivo to represent him and asked to obtain witness statements, investigatory records, and other discovery pertinent to defending the allegations.

The amended answer presents Judge Hurd’s full denial of the matter’s merits and possible procedural arguments he may utilize if the case proceeds toward a Supreme Court discipline ruling. Both sides will have the opportunity to further plead their positions at a potential upcoming hearing.

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.