On Friday, August 18, 2023, a Judge of the Superior Court in New Jersey, Gary N. Wilcox, filed a verified answer before the Supreme Court of New Jersey Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. This is in relation to the complaint against him for posting inappropriate Tiktok videos.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Gary N. Wilcox” with case no. ACJC 2023-218.
The charges cited Canon 1, Rule 1.1, Canon 2, Rule 2.1, and Canon 5, Rule 5.1(A) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. which require:
Judges to observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the Judiciary may be preserved;
Judges to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety and to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary; and
Judges to conduct their extrajudicial activities in a manner that would not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge, demean the judicial office, or interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
On June 30, 2023, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct of the Supreme Court of New Jersey filed a formal complaint against Wilcox. As per the allegations outlined in the complaint, Wilcox, who operated under the TikTok username “Sal Tortorella,” uploaded a total of 11 videos featuring content deemed inappropriate. These videos encompassed references to violence, sexual content, misogyny, and offensive racial terminology. Notably, certain videos were filmed within his chambers, the courthouse premises, and even from his bed, with Wilcox occasionally donning judicial attire or being only partially dressed.
The report states:
“Respondent recorded a TikTok video of himself wearing a “Beavis and Butt-Head” T-shirt while walking through the courthouse with Get Down by Nas playing in the background. The song contains explicit lyrics concerning a criminal case and a courtroom shooting as well as derogatory and discriminatory terms, drug and gang references, and the killing of a doctor in a hospital who treated another gang member.”
The report continues:
“In another video, Respondent smiles at the camera with the following screen text visible: “When an ex-girlfriend calls you “Santa” because of your new white beard.” The song playing in the background, Touch It by Busta Rhymes, contains graphic lyrics. The following lyrics are audible during the video:” For the record, just a second, I’m freakin’ it out. While she tryin’ to touch, see, I was peepin’ it out. She turned around and was tryin’ to put my d**k in her mouth. I let her.”
On August 18, 2023, Gary N. Wilcox issued a verified answer, addressing the allegations raised against him. Judge Wilcox verified the allegations in the first two paragraphs of the complaint. He acknowledged his unblemished record as a lawyer prior to his appointment as a Superior Court Judge. He confirmed his appointment to the Bench in 2011, followed by a reappointment in 2018. He emphasized the thorough vetting and approval process he underwent, demonstrating his qualifications and integrity as a judge.
Wilcox highlighted his excellent performance as a judge, citing commendations from his superiors, colleagues, and legal cases where he demonstrated integrity, diligence, and impartiality. He emphasized that his reappointment process validated his judicial temperament and capabilities. Regarding the specific allegations raised in the complaint, Judge Wilcox admitted that he created a personal TikTok account during the COVID-19 shutdown period. He acknowledged that he posted videos with inappropriate language and content and that some of these videos were accessible to TikTok users generally. He conceded that the videos were not consistent with the behavior expected of a judge and that they could be seen as demeaning the judiciary’s reputation.
Wilcox explained that he did not realize the full implications of posting these videos and that he did not intend to bring the judiciary into disrepute. He admitted that he should have been more sensitive to the potential impact of his actions as a public figure and a judge. He expressed regret for not recognizing the possible negative consequences of his actions and for not seeking guidance before posting the videos. In his response, Judge Wilcox acknowledged the need for greater prudence in his behavior as a judge and accepted responsibility for his lapse in judgment. He assured the committee that he had ceased such activities and expressed a commitment to upholding the dignity and integrity of the judiciary moving forward.
Overall, Judge Wilcox’s verified answer to the complaint presented a candid acknowledgment of his actions and demonstrated his understanding of their inappropriateness in the context of his role as a judge.
The Answer states:
“WHEREFORE, Respondent seeks, for the reasons stated, a finding of no violation or if a violation is determined, that no discipline be imposed as it would serve no legitimate purpose but to punish. Alternatively, if discipline is to be imposed, then it should be no greater than an admonition.”
The Judge earned a law degree from the Harvard University Law School.
The Judge’s Courtroom is at 10 Main Street, Floor 3, Hackensack in New Jersey, and can be reached at 201-221-0700 ext. 25531. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.