Trials & Litigation

silence gesture.

A New Jersey judge told the mother of a sexual assault victim to “keep your mouth shut, sit down” after she made noise in the back of the courtroom and objected to delays in the case.

NJ Advance Media has the story, along with the courtroom recording of the exchange between the mother and Judge Joseph Rea of Middlesex County.

The mother had flown in from another state for the June 28 hearing in Newark expecting charges against former English teacher John Angeline to end in a plea deal. Upon arrival, she listened to her voice mails and learned prosecutors had rejected the deal as too lenient.

The mother’s son was 15 when the sexual abuse allegedly began, and prosecutors say it took place over a three-year period. Angeline was indicted in September 2015.

At the June 28 hearing, Rea and lawyers discussed a fall trial date. Rea expressed irritation at noise in the back of the courtroom, according to the account by NJ Advance Media.

“What’s the problem back there?” Rea asked. “Excuse me, if you have enough nerve to make some noise, stand up and be heard. What’s the problem?”

The mother stood and answered. “We’ve been dealing with this for four and a half years, your honor. Four and a half years. And it’s been constant delays and pushbacks,” she said.

Rea asked the woman who she was, and her son stood, identifying themselves as the victims.

Rea responded by noting busy schedules. “The case is going to go to trial, all right? You’re not the only case on the list. There’s a bunch of cases on the list. Both these lawyers have a pretty busy calendar. What we’re trying to do now, is get a firm date. Is that a problem?” he asked.

The victim’s mother responded that all the back and forth is a problem. “October 9, October this. We were supposed to be here in June, and now we’re going to October. Initially, it was going in 2020 and that’s where we feel like we’re going to end up. All I’m asking for is fairness for this case. Please. Please.”

Rea told the woman she should take her complaint to the prosecutor’s office rather than the court. “Because you’re being inappropriate,” he said. “Keep your mouth shut, sit down.”

The mother told NJ Advance Media she knows she was wrong but she is hurt by the judge’s response and fearful the trial will not be fair. “This is why victims don’t come forward,” she said.