A New Jersey State Superior Court Judge who told a woman applying for a restraining order for sexual assault against her whether she closed her legs or tried to called the police to prevent the assault has been disbarred by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
In a written statement, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote that Russo’s future involvement in hearing sexual assault and domestic violence cases will be “inconveivable.
Russo told the woman that she could “close her legs” to prevent rape. On Tuesday, he was removed from the bench and barred from hearing cases over “repeated and serious acts of misconduct.”
Judge Russo was recommended for removal from the bench since last summer. His removal was upheld by a three-judge advisory panel in January.
Russo expressed remorse in a December court hearing about joking about the exchange he had with the woman with court personnel. He appealed the decisions of the Supreme Court while on a three-month unpaid suspension.
The exchange between Russo and the woman happened in 2016. Russo reportedly asked the woman, “Do you know how to stop somebody from having intercourse with you?” He responded with, “Block your body parts? Close your legs? Call the police? Did you do any of those things?” when the woman responded no to the question according to court transcripts.
He argues that the Supreme Court’s decision was excessive since an advisory panel on judicial conduct previously recommended a three-month unpaid suspension punishment for him.