Generic gavel image.(Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — The state's judicial ethics board has filed a complaint against a Superior Court judge who served in Bergen, Passaic and Essex counties for misusing judicial resources — including making an employee do her son's homework — and other integrity violations.
The complaint alleges that Deborah M. Gross-Quatrone forced a law clerk to start working several weeks before the official start date, secretly recorded meetings with senior judges and made a staff member attend to her personal business, including doing her son’s high school homework.
The eight-page document was filed Monday by the Supreme Court of New Jersey’s Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct against Gross-Quatrone, a Saddle Brook attorney who is listed online as a faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
A staffer who answered the phone in Gross-Quatrone's chambers referred all inquiries to Adolf Gallucio, her attorney. Gallucio is out of the country until Monday and could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Gross-Quatrone and other Passaic judges received an email from the training coordinator for the Passaic Vicinage advising them that the incoming law clerks' term would begin on Aug. 24, 2015. She was then transferred to the Bergen Vicinage and was assigned a clerk who she made begin working Aug. 4, 2015, the complaint alleges.
Gross-Quatrone also made the clerk make up three days of work that she took off for vacation on Aug. 12, 13 and 14 — before her official start date — and made the clerk make up the time she spent at mandatory training sessions for Family Division law clerks, according to the complaint.
The clerk was not compensated for her work prior to Aug. 24 until Dec. 11, 2015, when the human resources manager and trial court administrator for the Bergen Vicinage met with the clerk and were made aware of her early start, according to the complaint. The clerk was reassigned to another judge days later.
Gross-Quatrone attended a meeting on Dec. 14 with Bonnie J. Mizdol, assignment judge of the Bergen County Vicinage, about her early employment of the clerk, which Gross-Quatrone surreptitiously recorded, the complaint states.
At another meeting a week later with Mizdol, Family Division Presiding Judge Peter J. Melchionne, the family division manager and the trial court administrator, Laura Simoldoni, Gross-Quatrone tried to bring a staff member to the meeting and asked that it be held in a courtroom where it could be recorded by the CourtSmart recording system.
When neither request was honored, Gross-Quatrone allegedly activated a recording device in her purse that was discovered when Simoldoni saw a red flashing light, according to the complaint. The recorder was confiscated and returned later the same day after a copy of the recording was made.
The third and final count in the complaint against Gross-Quatrone alleges that she instructed a staff member to check jewelry orders, rental car reservations and vacation itineraries, send letters concerning Louis Vuitton bags, inquire about Macy’s store credit, send out bills to clients from her private law practice and do her son’s homework.
In Sept. 2015, Gross-Quatrone sent an email asking her staff member how the homework assignment was going and if she ordered a book that was needed to complete it, the complaint alleges.
The staff member responded that she was working on the assignment, got the book online and would have a draft done the next morning for the judge’s son to look at.
Follow Allison Pries on Twitter: @allisonpries