In one of the misconduct claims, the complaint said Russo questioned a woman about how she tried to stop an alleged sexual assault, including if she “tried to “block [her] body parts” or “close her legs,” after she fully described her assault allegations to the court.
CNN has reached out to Russo’s attorney for comment and has not heard back.
According to the order, Russo “claimed he was trying to help a ‘demoralized’ witness on cross-examination and ‘get her re-engaged in the hearing.'”
In the court’s opinion, Rabner responded to this claim saying that not only did the witness testify clearly, but that Russo’s “coarse questions” were not relevant. Overall, Rabner said, Russo’s comments after the hearing were “neither appropriate nor tasteful.”
In response to another count in the opinion, Rabner said that Russo had a nine-minute phone exchange in front of a crowded courtroom with a woman who was a defendant of a paternity case. He called the woman, who missed her court date.
When the woman phoned back, the call was routed to the Russo’s courtroom. The woman told Russo she didn’t attend because she “was very scared,” it said in the opinion. The judge then requested her address to send her a paternity order, but the woman didn’t want to give her address because she was afraid for the safety of her children. Instead she asked for it to be sent to her lawyer, the complaint said.
In response, Russo allegedly said, “he’s going to find you, ma’am. We’re all going to find you.”
In the opinion, Rabner described Russo’s comments as “disturbing” and “reflected poorly on his temperament.”
The other counts relate to Russo asking for preferential treatment for scheduling his son’s custody case. He also declined to recuse himself from a high school classmate’s spousal support case, the opinion said.
The court said that they considered mitigating factors when considering Russo’s removal, including “an otherwise clean disciplinary record” and the respondent expressing remorse.
Russo became an attorney in 1997, where he served as a law clerk in the Superior Court before going into private practice, according to the opinion. He had six years of experience as an administrative law judge before he was appointed to the Superior Court in December 2015, it said. After he was appointed, he received formal training for working in the family division. He later received training related to the Prevention of the Domestic Violence Act, according to the opinion.
Rabner said that Russo’s multiple acts of misconduct have “lasting consequences.”