- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey state judge who admitted presiding over cases where she had a conflict of interest has been suspended for one month without pay.

The punishment of Superior Court Judge Melanie Donohue Appleby was made public Wednesday by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Appleby was found to have violated multiple canons of the code of judicial conduct, and her suspension will take effect Monday.

The 50-year-old Appleby has served for three years as a Family Court judge in Ocean County. The charges against her were cited in papers filed last year by the state’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which is an arm of the state Supreme Court that investigates complaints made against judges.

The allegations against her stemmed from an issue Appleby was having with her ex-husband in 2012. She sought and received assistance from a family law attorney who at the time was also representing other clients in matters before her in court.

During his initial consultation with Appleby, the attorney told her that he didn’t want his involvement in her personal matter to result in her recusing herself from active cases before her court. The attorney later contacted another lawyer and asked if he would represent Appleby.

The lawyer declined, citing his caseload, but agreed to send out a basic letter of representation on Appleby’s behalf. He had stationery from his firm sent to the attorney, with the understanding that the attorney would use it to draft a letter of representation that he would review and sign.

The letter, though, was apparently sent without the second lawyer’s knowledge. He learned this when the lawyer for Appleby’s ex-husband contacted him to discuss the matter.

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