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Judge in Murder Case Was Neighbor of Defendant
Judge Donald Volkert's decision yesterday to lift house arrest restrictions on Verona resident and accused murderer Herbert Maisenbacher has many in the neighborhood virtually hysterical, and a new revelation came out today too: that the judge once lived just a couple of blocks away from the defendant.
Last night, phones were ringing overtime in the township of just 14,000 people, which is located just west of Montclair, and where the accused murderer of Joan Galligan was known as "Herbie" to many residents, particularly old-timers with grown children.
"The judge's ex-wife and children were very close to mutual friends of the Maisenbachers," a tipster told us. "I think he should have recused himself."
Judge Patricia Costello, who makes assignments for Essex County superior court, after checking out the story, called it "ancient history" and noted that Judge Volkert lived in Verona about two decades ago. "He doesn't know him," Costello said. Even if the two men's paths might have overlapped, she pointed out that Verona is "a small town with a limited number of schools and churches and it really doesn't resonate to me."
Judge Volkert referred the matter to the prosecutor, who was not in.
Verona residents' emotions, as reported by our source and as evidence on NJ.com's Verona Forum, run from scared to confused to angry.
I know I know, Innocent till Proven Guilty, but...
by QuietWatcher, 4/14/06 11:08 ET
Re: Word on the street is by pattyboy, 4/14/06
but it still concerns me...and I so feel for his family... having to deal with this. I think knowing the DNA was a match says it all... Since we're neighbors and the children are always playing and riding bikes on the street and now that it's been headlined on the front page of the VCGTimes, I had no choice but to sit my little ones down and carefully explain the situation... My youngest later asked me "Mommy, is she a murderer too?" and I thought to myself... my God, I never thought in all these years in Verona that we would have to deal with something of this magnitude in our little town...
Others on the NJ.com board were scandalized by a look that someone thought the defendant's wife gave to the victim's daughter at yesterday's arraignment. One poster accused fellow board members of forming a virtual lynch mob:
So you think you saw his wife "look" at the victim's daughter funny. You THINK you heard her say something about her. But you have NO IDEA about the context or history of either action. It is clear that you have immediately assumed the role of "animal". Just by condemning the woman for loving and supporting her spouse. You have no idea about the history here.
I don't know the guy (or his wife) one way or another. But from the sounds of it, we might half expect to see you and your friends show up at the defendants house with lit torches and a length of rope.
Hop aboard the lynch-mob bandwagon folks!
Joan Galligan, the murder victim, lived in Astor Place in Glen Ridge and was a longtime family friend and business associate of the accused. She was murdered on December 7.
April 18, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink
Unless they were clearly direct friends, there is no support for recusal. It would be impossible for our court system to work on a town or county level if a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend situation warranted recusal (the judge's "ex-wife and children were very close to mutual friends of the Maisenbachers" -- I'm counting the ex-wife as a "friend" of the judge, which we can't even know).
Posted by: appletony | Apr 18, 2006 4:12:35 PM
I dunno, this whole thing gets stranger and stranger by the minute. Let's just say that it's very difficult for me to have sympathy for a murderer (alleged or otherwise) and his sympathizers, especially when they're living among law-abiding people in town. No offense, but even if he is locked up, his family can still visit him. The victim's daughter cannot say the same about her parent. My sympathies, rightfully so, reside with her and her family.
I hope justice is done and I'll leave it at that.
Posted by: Miss Martta | Apr 18, 2006 4:40:47 PM
The two streets on the map, in reality, are not that close. (I'm not sure that map is even very accurate.) Nevertheless, just because they lived in the same town, doesn't make it relevant.
Posted by: justeL | Apr 18, 2006 5:09:49 PM
Actually the streets ARE that close, and this is the first I've heard that this guy lives down the block from me. Disturbing, to say the least.
Posted by: adr | Apr 18, 2006 6:06:18 PM
This has become a very odd matter. The daughter of the slain woman posts here on the case. We even get to feel we somehow "know" her because this very morn the Star-Ledger ran a photo of her looking (well, to me) looking every bit as understandably grief-stricken as one might expect. People reach out and back to her to her via their own posts. And the accused is (in "print" here) denied his rights. By many people, I'd wager, who'd normally pay at least lip service to the bleatings of the ACLU. Others offer vague-sounding implications which may not have any vasis in reality, certainly would likely be held under objection in court proceeedings as hearsay or even mere gossip.
Perhaps, purely in the interests of moral responsibility, because I've honestly never seen such a situation as this one, the Barista might wisely cease running items on this one until there's a trial and a result. No matter how long that takes. Lest anyone who posts here says something they might later be ashamed of or that others might misconstrue.
Silence, hard as that is to conceive of here, might be the best course of action.
Posted by: cathar | Apr 18, 2006 6:09:07 PM
What rights are being denied to him here?
Unlike the vast majority of what I read here, this is something that actually is important, and that we should be discussing. The fact that a defendant in this type of violent crime is set free to live amongst us while he drags out his trial for years (which he will do - plenty of reasons to, no reason not to), is something that calls for citizen outrage and citizen action. We should all be contacting our elected officials and demanding bail reform. I know that won't help in this case, but maybe it will protect us the next time.
Posted by: Loren | Apr 18, 2006 6:29:18 PM
The whole situation is alarming, I agree, but alarming because of the lynch mob mentality of many of the posters. Can any rational person really believe that the accused presents some risk of harm to anyone in the community. Let's have a complete investigation and a trial before we get to confinement and punishment.
Posted by: Byron | Apr 18, 2006 6:38:25 PM
Ma'am, it would be hypocritical of me to urge silence on others in this matter and not hold to it myself. Read all the previous posts on this matter and ponder the emotional manipulation, however well intended. There is nothing else I intend to say on this.
Posted by: cathar | Apr 18, 2006 6:38:28 PM
Bail reform, Loren? What is your proposal, that anyone accused of a serious crime should be sent to prison until the accused can prove their innocence.
Posted by: Byron | Apr 18, 2006 6:45:51 PM
In the interest of removing the emotional aspect from this situation, at least as far as my presence is concerned, I will refrain from posting any further. Although I feel that as this is a public forum, I have as much right as any to post, regardless of my situation, I will cease. You can be sure that Mr. Maisenbacher is being zealously advocated for, and will be so for the duration of the proceedings.
I feel it is important to note, however, that in our society, victims receive the least amount of rights - I am merely advocating for my mother as she would have done for me had I instead been the victim. In addition, I am confident that I have clarified many factual issues, with absolutely no emotional undertones. I do hope that there continues to be an intelligent dialogue about the meaningful moral and practical implications of this situation - engaging in such dialogue is really the most important thing that we can do.
Posted by: Kimberly Cicala | Apr 18, 2006 6:49:30 PM
a) Loren is a masculine name, as I'm sure you well know.
b) A simple "I have nothing to back up my point" would have been adequate.
Posted by: Loren | Apr 18, 2006 6:49:50 PM
Please note that I am not asking you to refrain from posting. In fact, I think your posts add to the discussion.
Certainly, the availability of this medium to all parties is new in the context of criminal justice; sometimes even weird. TV changed war reporting in Vietnam. 24-hr cable changed war reporting in Iraq I and II. I'm sure there were objections to bringing the Vietnam war into our living rooms. But we wouldn't want to be without television news today.
Kimberly, I hope that you will continue to feel free to post here with your side of the story.
Posted by: The Barista | Apr 18, 2006 7:01:08 PM
Dragged out for years? Not many murder trials are dragged out for years. I'd bet a year tops. Appeals might drag on for years but he'd be in prison then.
Posted by: Right of Center | Apr 18, 2006 7:10:57 PM
Assuming, for the sake of discussion, the defendant is guilty of what he is charged with doing, what rational person would conclude that, having gotten away with murder thus far, the same forces that drove him to kill won't drive him there again? And since in New Jersey, it is almost impossible to actually be sentenced to death, if he knows he's guilty, and he has no moral compunction against murder, explain to me why he wouldn't kill again if it were to his advantage to do so. In fact, here in Essex County, accused murderers are released on bail all the time, and, probably not coincidently, the witnesses in their cases sometimes wind up dead. Why do you think that is a good thing?
And even if he doesn't attack anyone else, what's to stop this guy from disappearing? He's got the means.
As far as bail reform is concerned, in many parts of the United States, people charged with murder are not given bail, or given bail with house arrest. It is foolishness that we don't do the same here in NJ
Posted by: Loren | Apr 18, 2006 7:11:17 PM
Kimberly, I hope that things will change down the road & you will post more here. Your voice is one of the most interesting & powerful I've read. You have my deepest sympathies & I wish you well.
Back to the specific topic at hand - I still haven't seen an explanation of the judge's rationale for lifting the house arrest restriction. Clearly something changed, or some new argument was made. Does anyone know what it was?
Posted by: crank | Apr 18, 2006 7:12:33 PM
I always thought Loren was a female name.
Posted by: Right of Center | Apr 18, 2006 7:14:05 PM
I always thought Loren was a female name.
Posted by: Right of Center | Apr 18, 2006 7:14:52 PM
Thanks Barista - I'll just take a step back for a while; let things fall where the may for the time being.
Posted by: Kimberly Cicala | Apr 18, 2006 7:16:23 PM
Almost anything can be a female name. I predict that Suri, for example will become more popular, and right here on Baristanet there is a lady named "Patrick" (Number 2047 on the list of female names)
The link you posted shows that for every female named Loren, there are six males, in my experience, that's about right.
LOREN 0.032 46,687 376
LOREN 0.005 7,590 1285
You might be thinking of the popular female name "Lauren", in at #162
Posted by: Loren | Apr 18, 2006 7:43:46 PM
P.S. There is also another "Loren" that has posted here once or twice, also a male, I'll wager
Posted by: Loren | Apr 18, 2006 7:47:13 PM
a) Loren is most often a masculine name...
Posted by: Right of Center | Apr 18, 2006 7:51:11 PM
At 6-to-1, the best you'll get from me is "almost always", especially since as a male name it's in the top 400.
Posted by: Loren | Apr 18, 2006 7:54:53 PM
By a margin of 3-2 men named Loren are sensitive about their name's gender association.
Posted by: Right of Center | Apr 18, 2006 7:57:39 PM
ROC: You DO find the most interesting web sites.
Posted by: Miss Martta | Apr 18, 2006 7:57:41 PM
And back on topic, I must disagree with you ROC, If this thing goes to trial, I say it's a virtual certainty that the trial will not be over by 04/18/07, although I would be happy to be wrong.
Posted by: Loren | Apr 18, 2006 7:58:23 PM