Governor Chris Christie announced yesterday that he has nominated Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon for reappointment to the bench. Should Escandon be be confirmed by the State Senate, he will be a tenured Judge eligible to serve until the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Escandon was appointed to the Superior Court in 2009 by Governor Jon Corzine. His service on the bench became a matter of public controversy when Governor Chris Christie lent a sympathetic ear to Rachel Alintoff, whose divorce was being presided over by Escandon, during a Town Hall Meeting in Garfield, Bergen County, on May 2, 2012. Alintoff complained to Christie that Escandon stripped her of her parental rights as a punishment for seeking an Order of Protection against her estranged husband in New York and that the Judge ordered her estranged husband, who she said makes over $500,000 per year on Wall Street, to provide only $1000 per month in support for her and her son.
Five women whose divorce cases were heard by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon are petitioning the New Jersey General Assembly to impeach the Judge they say violated their rights of due process and equal protection.
WABC-NY first reported the story of the impeachment petition.
Under the New Jersey Constitution, the General Assembly has the sole power to impeach judges by majority vote of the members. Should a judge be impeached by the Assembly, a trial is held in the Senate. A conviction and removal from office requires the vote of two-thirds of the Senate members.
Patricia Madison aka Patricia Pisciotti, Rachel Alintoff, Tameka Hunt, Paula Diaz Antonopoulos Wolfe, and Kristen Williams are represented by Robert A. Tandy, Esq., a Woodcliff Lake civil rights and employment attorney.
The women argue that they have no recourse against Escandon, other than impeachment and removal from office, for violating their civil rights due to the broad immunities granted Judges. They make the following allegations in their petition:
Governor Christie’s nomination of Judge David F. Bauman to the State Supreme Court has prompted a mid-term reassignment of the Superior Court Judges in Monmouth County.
Assignment Judge Lawrence M. Lawson told MMM that effective January 2, 2013 Judge Paul Escandon is transfered from Family Court to Civil Court, Judge Honora O’Brien Kilgallen will move from Civil Court to Criminal Court, Judge Linda Grasso-Jones will switch from hearing Civil matters to Family matters, and Judge James J. McGann will transfer from Civil Court to Criminal Court hearing Juvenile cases. Judge Leslie-Ann M. Justus will remain in Family Court and take over Escandon’s calendar.
MMM called Lawson for comment on a New York Post story over the weekend that said Escandon would not be hearing divorce cases “after a months-long campaign by women who say he systematically cheated them from the bench.” Lawson said the Post story was a “rehash.” Escandon has not been hearing new divorces, rather, he has been presiding over non-matrimonial cases and post-Judgment matters in Family Court, since July.
Escandon’s July reassignment was caused by Judge Michael Guadagno’s elevation to the Appellate Court and these recent reassignments are the result of Bauman’s anticipated elevation to the Supreme Court, according to Lawson.
Lawson said that the Monmouth County Vicinage currently has six vacancies with a seventh coming if Bauman is confirmed a Supreme Court Associate Justice by the State Senate. There are four pending Judicial nominations for Monmouth County pending before the Senate.
Escandon’s tenure on the Family Court bench has been a subject of controversy since May when former Long Branch resident Rachel Alintoff complained to Governor Christie at at Town Hall Meeting in Garfield about Escandon’s rulings, one of which had been overturned on appeal, in her divorce case. Since then, a group of divorce litigants, mostly women, have been holding periodic protests about Escandon at the Monmouth County Court House and the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct has initiated an investigation into Escandon based upon Alintoff’s complaints.
Multiple divorce litigants with cases before Judge Paul X. Escandon have told MMM that they have been informed by Monmouth County Court personnel that Escandon will no longer be hearing their cases.
Judge Lawrence M. Lawson, the Assignment Judge of the Monmouth County Vicinage, confirmed the change in Escandon’s assignment.
Escandon will be hearing non-matrimonial cases, those of unmarried couples with children and/or property who need the Court’s involvement to resolve their differences and post-divorce cases that he currently has, according to Lawson. All family court judges will hear post divorce matters that are 12 months old or more.
A group of thirty women lead by former Long Branch resident Rachel Alintoff have been fighting get to Escandon recused from their cases and removed from the bench for several months due to what they say is a pattern of improper and illegal rulings regarding custody and support in favor of their wealthy estranged husbands. There complaints have ranged from revoking custody without a hearing to emanicipating a disabled teenager in order to void child support.
June was by far the most active month in MMM’s history. There have been 32,000 visits and 57,000 page views so far month. 71% of those visitors were repeats. Google analytics says that all of that traffic came from 8700 computers. Unbelievably to me, the average visit is for 11 minutes, which is longer than it takes to read an entire issue of the Asbury Park Press.
According to alexa.com, only 15,850 websites in the New York area and 125,439 in the United States get more traffic than MMM.
Special thanks go out to Anna Little, Ernesto Cullari, John Bennett, Christine Hanlon, Vin Gopal, Frank LaRocca, Barbara Gonzalez, Bob Gordon, Linda Baum Rachel Alintoff, Judge Paul Escandon, Louise Murray and everyone who wears bathing suits on the Asbury Park Boardwalk. I can’t forget Bob Menendez’s opposition research team.
I doing my monthly review, I couldn’t help but notice the success of my friends in Asbury Park.
Congratulations to Dan Jacobson and Molly Mulshine at the AsburyParkSun. In only three months they have made a significant impact in the local media market. Alexa.com says that APS is in the top 200,000 of all websites nationally and in the top 35,000 in the New York area. Mulshine was the first to report the Asbury Park Boardwalk beach attire controversy, a story that went national.
UPDATE: July 1
Wow! I haven’t had such a busy last day of the month since I was in the car business. The final numbers for June are 32,959 visitors fromm 9,194 unique IPs and 58,768 page views. Ranked 120,646 in the U.S. on Alexa.
As Lois mentioned in the comments, thank you so much to all the commenters, especially the “congregation” as Lois called the regulars. I won’t name them all because I’m sure to leave an important one out.
Monmouth County’s Court is likely to get a great deal of media attention this week…and not because of the contaminants that forced the closure of the Courthouse.
The New York Postpicked up the story of Rachel Alintoff’s complaints about the way Judge Paul Escandon is handling her divorce that MMM first reported on May 9. Nine other women have come forward for the Post’s story, including one woman who fears losing any contact with her children after Escandon altered a custody agreement that had been in place for five years, thereby granting custodial rights to her mobster ex-husband who she fears will end up in the witness protection program or worse.
Alintoff told MMM that national television media outlets are calling her and the other women about their stories. She expects the women’s story to be featured on at least one network morning show this week.
Assemblyman Sean Kean says he and Judge Paul Escandon do not share a political agenda, that his proposed legislation to reform alimony and child support is not anti-women, and that he believes in the integrity, ethics and fairness of Escandon.
Kean was responding to Rachel Alintoff’s comment to Governor Chris Christie, “Judge Escandon is the former law partner of Assemblyman Sean Kean whose main platform is reducing Alimony for women. What will you do as Governor to make sure that Judges are kept from carrying out their own political agendas from the bench?”
“Alintoff has been having lots of people call my office about her case,” said Kean, “we tell them we are not familiar with the case and it would be inappropriate for a legislator to call a Judge about a case.”
Kean is the sponsor of two pieces of legislation regarding alimony and child support.
A685, which is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon. The companion bill in the Senate, S1388 is sponsored by Democratic Senator Nicholas Scutari, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Republican Senator Gerald Cardinale. The bill provides for modification of child support and certain alimony cases due to changed circumstances. Kean says this bill makes the Lepis decision, a 1980 NJ Supreme Court decision that defined “change of circumstances” for alimony cases legislated law rather than case law. “This bill puts the current case law into legislation,” said Kean.
A former Long Branch woman who appealed to Governor Chris Christie for help regarding unfair and illegal treatment by the Monmouth County Judge presiding over her divorce case says she has heard from the State Attorney General’s Criminal Division and the Governor’s office who have referred her case to the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct.
Rachel Alintoff, 36, told Christie during his town hall meeting in Garfield last week that Judge Paul X. Escandon stripped her of her parental rights of her 2 year old son, Hayden, without the legally required hearing, as punishment for her seeking an order of protection in New York, where she lives now, against her estranged husband Bryan who failed to dispose of a handgun as Escandon had ordered as part of a custody order.
Alintoff also told Christie that Escandon, after his ruling on her parental rights was overturned by the Appeals Court, denied her access to her clothing, money for legal fees and granted her only $1,100 per month in child support from her husband who earns, she says, over $500K per year on Wall Street.
Here’s a link to video of Alintoff speaking to Christie and the Governor’s response. The video will start with Christie recognising Alintoff. At the 43:58 mark Christie moves on to Peter, the young student who became famous for asking the Governor for a note to excuse him for missing school.
Here’s the text of Alintoff’s remarks and questions to Christie:
I am going through a divorce in Monmouth County in front of Judge Paul X. Escandon.
In October 2011, Judge Escandon stripped me of all my parental rights to my 2 year old son without the legally required hearing.
I had only supervised visitation. This was a punishment for an order of protection I was seeking in NYC (where I am currently living) when my husband failed to dispose of his handgun as per a court order. My son had to endure a month of barely seeing his mother until Judge Escandon was Summarily reversed by the Appelate Court for his illegal ruling.
Since then, Judge Escandon has gone on to make other illegal rulings against me such as denying me access to my clothing, granting no money for my legal fees and only issuing $1,100 in support a month to my son and me which puts us below the Federal Poverty Level. All while my husband makes on average over half a million dollars a year on Wall Street.
This is not an isolated incident. Judge Escandon has done similar things to other woman and has a habit of financiallly ruining women in his courtroom.
I have a 2-part question:
1) What will you do as Governor to ensure that Judges like Escandon follow the law or are taken off the bench?
2) Judge Escandon is the former law partner of Assemblyman Sean Kean whose main platform is reducing Alimony for women.
What will you do as Governor to make sure that Judges are kept from carrying out their own political agendas from the bench?
Alintoff, who first brought her situation to MMM’s attention as a comment in the post about the Garfield town hall meeting, says she’s heard from Jeanne Ashmore in the Governor’s Office and Detective Charles Crescenz in the Criminal Division of the Attorney General’s Office, both of whom told her the matter would be taken up by the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. Neither Crescenz nor Ashmore would comment to MMM. John Tonelli, Executive Director of the ACJC also declined to comment.
Alintoff emailed every member of the State Legislature today to inform them of her situation. Her father, Merny Schwartz, Phd, wrote to Chief Justice Stuart Rabner about Escandon’s conduct last December. Schwartz maintains a blog on his daughter’s case before Escandon, JudgePaulEscandon.blog.com.