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Judge Who Voted in Wrong Town Gets New Term on the Woodbridge Bench

Judge Spencer B. Robbins lives in Chatham but voted from his law office in Woodbridge for 12 years


Woodbridge Judge Spencer B. Robbins, who moved to Chatham in 1998 but continued voting from his Woodbridge law office for 12 years, was reappointed to another three-year term as a municipal judge.

Robbins' reappointment was buried in a New Year flurry of resolutions that the council voted on at their reorganization meeting earlier this month. He makes approximately $77,000 in the position, according to a Home News Tribune report.

The trouble came about when it was learned that Robbins, who owns a law practice in Woodbridge, had been voting from his office address since 1998, four years after he was appointed to a judgeship here. He was stopped after Christopher Struben, the Republican candidate for mayor who lost in the 2011 election, complained about Robbins' illegally voting from his Woodbridge law office. 

Struben and several town residents demanded that Mayor John McCormac or the town council remove Robbins from the bench. Council Attorney Craig Coughlin said that the council had no power to discipline Robbins.

The Middlesex County Board of Elections unanimously ruled that Robbins was in the wrong, and the matter afterwards was taken up by the state judicial ethics panel. 

Their decisions are considered to be confidential, unless a judge is removed from the bench.

It wasn't Robbins' first brush with ethics panels. In 2004, he was admonished by the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) of the NJ Supreme Court. They charged that Robbins had failed to comply with an investigator's request for a grievance filed against him; failed to sign an agreement in lieu of being disciplined; and failed to file a timely answer to a formal ethics complaint.

An admonishment is considered to be the least severe form of discipline that can be meted out to an attorney, according to the DRB report.

Struben also pointed out that Robbins was chairman of the board of directors of Allegiance Bank, a financial institution with which the township does business. Allegiance merged with BCB Community Bank in 2011, and Robbins sits on their board of directors.

Robbins' financial interest in the bank was a conflict of interest, Struben said. The township still holds accounts in the institution.

Robbins was admitted to the bar in New York and New Jersey in 1981. He served as municipal prosecutor in Woodbridge from 1988 to 1994, when he was appointed as a municipal judge. He also serves as a municipal judge in South Plainfield and Sayreville.

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unknownauthor January 21, 2013 at 01:50 PM
Why would anyone be surprised that town council, in its fervor to approve 102 new Resolutions, didn't need more than two (2) minutes to pass Resolutions 3 thru 102! In that mix were lots of spending and re-appointments to key township position, like Judges, Prosecutors, etc. (see: http://www.twp.woodbridge.nj.us/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=XSKXY3G32QI%3d&tabid=325) . If one was to ask a council member what any given Resolution they just voted to approve covers, you might get a blank stare. That stare is usually followed by the council member(s) turning to Mr. John Mitch, the Township Clerk (a real, well informed member on that dais) for insights into what they just approved. Is this the type of representation you thought you were getting when you voted for these politicians? Is this the type of government you want for you, your family and love ones? If not, let them know it! Call them, e-mail them or better yet, tell them in person at a town council meeting. They really love hearing from the public, so long as you come to praise, not question or challenge, their rule!
Al McDorman January 21, 2013 at 03:43 PM
The Fiefdom of Woodbridge, "Love It or LEAVE it"! That's how honest police officers do it and have been for years. Nobody IN the township will ever be able to change anything about our Tammany Hall on Main, and that's just the way it will stay absent outside intervention. The higher functioning township of Edison or the city of Perth Amboy might be better to focus on. Their governments are more transparent and corrupt people are taken down eventually. In Woodbridge they are given added protection by the shot caller, whomever that may be.
Pam Chesky January 21, 2013 at 07:12 PM
I find it had to digest why a custodian must live in town to hold his/her employment...but a judge can move out of town, vote through an illegal address, have ethics violations and still be reappointed. Are there no qualified appointees for this position within the township of Woodbridge? How sad.
mrszzano January 21, 2013 at 08:08 PM
This man doesn't seem to have a very good grasp of the concepts of LAW, yet we reward him with a judgeship? Truly amazing!
Al McDorman January 21, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Apparently that is more common than most people realize, but the township seems to have really gone rogue. I thought it was bad when Jim McGreevey was mayor and I was a democrat. McCormac dashed any illusions I may have had about one party being the fairer.
Irina January 21, 2013 at 11:22 PM
A Team Mac win, A taxpayer loss.
Cosmicinnj January 22, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Lets get it straight, Assignment Judge Travis L. Francis has continued to allow the integrity of the bench in Middlesex County to follow his predecessor Robert Longhi and assist the Middlesex County Democratic Mob in the commission of their crimes. Why would Woodbridge whose Prosecutor is Director Freeholder Chris Rafano and a counsel member whose father is not only a Freeholder (Delina) but a one time counsel member himself, not embrace the service of a criminal to reside on the bench and assist the Democratic machine in the commission of their crimes at the municipal level. Oh and lets look at our Governor who has on several occasions condemned Middlesex County as corrupt and has done nothing either while the DA or the governor. Shame, Shame, Shame on you.
John Brown September 28, 2013 at 05:36 PM
The guy is a prick. I went before him and had to plead guilty cos he was obviously biased against me
sifney grant January 09, 2014 at 05:44 PM
He's doesn't listen to your defense at all. My daughter is on home instruction but yet he yells at her telling her that she has to go to school.he's not a doctor and on top of that he basicly sat there and told her that shes making up the issues that shes going through. She sees a therspist and psychologist.but hes basicly doesn't care what the doctor says in my daughters evaluation report. On top of that my daughter takes medication prescribed by her doctor for anxiety and depression. So he yells at her and basically calls her a lier...he's disgustingly cruel!!!!! I hope he eventually gets removed from the bench because the township needs a much much better judge than him!!!!!

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