Band’s Refuse Removal, Inc. v. Borough of Fail Lawn
NJ Superior Court, Appellate division, 1960.
Nature: Appellate case regarding voiding of contract. Appeal based on misconduct of judge. Overstepping of judicial boundaries. He used the trial as a means to investigate other conspiracy charges, and took on role of factfinder.
Concise rule of law: A judge may not assume the role of an advocate in a trial over which he presides (Outline book)
Facts: Capasos won trash collection contract.
Bourough passed Ordinace 688 which said that only trash collector had to have a city permit to collect and to have that permit, they had to have a contract with the city. This set up a monopoly. Band had a contract already, not with city, they couldn’t keep doing their job legally. Sued – They said they were deprived of due process – property because ordinance nullified their contract.
At trial the judge took over prosecution. Called own witnesses, did cross exam., appointed amicus curaie, etc. His justification was that it was of public importance.
At end of trial, judge voided Capasso’s voided contract, and awarded $30,000.
Issue: May a judge assume the role of an advocate in a trail over which he presides? (book)
Holding: Nope. Can’t. The power of the judge is to take an active role, but with restraint. Can’t use amicus curaie to take that role. Can’t allow Band’s to bring in new issues with out notice to the other parties. Etc.
Reasoning: Courts must be both impartial and give the appearance of impartiality. This judge basically took on role of P. atty.
Judgement was reversed and remanded for full trial to determine validity of scavenger contract.