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Municipal judge must tells Supremes why he shouldn’t be punished

The state Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct is recommending that New Jersey’s highest court  publicly admonish Moonachie Municipal Judge Philip Boggia because his firm contributed $1,500 to political warchests.

The Supremes have scheduled a Sept. 15 meeting with Boggia to discuss the issue.

Boggia said he didn’t know about the contributions, which he claims were made by his partner, Martin Durkin — the municipal attorney for Ridgefield Park.

But that matters little, said the judiciary panel, which is more concerned with how the public perceives the contributions.

Political contributions made by a firm are “attributable to respondent in his capacity as a partner with the firm,” the committee said.

New Jersey’s Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits judges from making “a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or purchase tickets for political party dinners or other functions,” either individually or through their law firms. The intent is to preserve an apolitical judiciary.

Boggia, who became a judge in 2004, has served as a municipal attorney in several towns — including Edgewater, where one of the contributions was made.

Punishing him for what he claims his partner did would be unfair, Boggia has contended.

Records show Durkin & Boggia of Ridgefield Park gave $1,000 to the Edgewater Democrats and another $500 to the Bergen County Democratic Organization.

The high court can accept the panel’s recommendation, or it can impose a higher level of punishment, including suspension. Then again, the Supremes could find that Boggia did nothing wrong. Or they could say he did but not punish him for it.

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