A New Jersey judge facing discipline after suggesting to a defendant that men "are in control" has acknowledged that the remarks were inappropriate. Municipal Court Judge Steven Brister's response published Monday called the comments "well-meaning but misguided."
Addressing a domestic violence suspect, Brister suggested that men should treat women "as if you're holding a feather, just to let them know you're the man and you're in control." A state judicial conduct advisory committee posted a complaint in October alleging the comments violated conduct rules, were disparaging to women and could create the perception of bias.
NJ.com reports that the committee said Brister made the following comments in February to the defendant, who was facing multiple domestic violence accusations:
"I'm going to tell you what I tell a lot of people with this same charge. Because all of these charges are the same. We, as men, and I can speak to you as a man, 'cause I am a man as well. We get frustrated with the women human beings. Because we try to straighten out a creation 'cause they was created with a curve.
But we as men, we think we above creation and we can straighten it out. No matter how much you try, or how you try to straighten out that curve, you can never do it. We get frustrated and then but, in our frustration you can't come at them like you Mike Tyson and they're in the ring like they're Leon Spinks. You can't do it. You can't punch, you can't hit. At best, you treat as if you're holding a feather, just to let them know you're the man and you're in control. But in each of these five complaints it said you went at them like Mike Tyson."
Brister sits in East Orange part-time and is an acting judge in Newark. His response Monday said he has recently completed several ethics courses.
Earlier this year, New Jersey's high court took action against two judges who faced criticism over their comments in cases involving sexual assault.
New Jersey's Supreme Court recommended that state Superior Court Judge John Russo Jr. be removed from the bench. Russo asked a woman during a 2016 hearing if she could have closed her legs to prevent a sexual assault, and joked about the exchange later with court personnel.
The court also terminated the temporary assignment of a judge who declined to order a 16-year-old rape suspect tried in adult court because the youth came "from a good family."