Referring to the spouses as "tomatoes" is enough to remove a judge from a divorce case, even if he also happens to be Italian. Superior Court Judge Philip Maenza was recently forced to recuse himself from a New Jersey divorce case after one of the parties complained about his analogy.
Tobia Ippolito requested a new judge after he interpreted Maenza's characterization of he and his wife as "the tomatoes in the case" as an anti-Italian insult. He also alleged that the judge called him a "jerk" during a conversation with a sheriff's officer.
In his defense, Maenza said he was referring to someone else during the courtroom conversation. He further explained that he "attempted to find 'common ground' with the litigants in an effort to explain the very difficult and complex process of divorce litigation and used a tomato analogy to make the point that divorce is ultimately distilled down to the basic facts upon which the court applies the law."
Under New Jersey law, the litigants can seek to remove a judge for a case or the judge can do it on his or her own accord. Some of the most common reasons for recusal include:
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