A tenured New Jersey criminal court judge appointed to the bench by former Gov. Chris Christie (R) is facing discipline over allegedly posting dozens of inappropriate TikTok videos, some even from chambers and courthouse hallways, that show the judge lip-syncing to sexually-explicit and profane lyrics.
Judge Gary Wilcox, 58, a judge who was appointed in 2011 to family court before being reassigned to the criminal division in 2016, is the subject of a complaint for posting 40 now-deleted videos on a public TikTok account between April 2021 and March 2023 under the pseudonym “Sal Tortorella.”
According to the filing, 11 videos “were inappropriate and brought disrepute to the Judiciary” in that they contained violent, sexual, or misogynistic content or showed Wilcox in chambers, in the courthouse, or lying in a bed wearing judicial robes while partially dressed.
A five-page complaint was filed Friday, June 30, by the disciplinary counsel for the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct. The allegations were strikingly graphic in their detail.
The filing alleges that in one video, Wilcox, “wearing a T-shirt with his face close to the camera, lip-syncs the following lyrics from Jump by Rihanna: ‘If you want it let’s do it. Ride it, my pony. My saddle is waitin’, come and jump on it. If you want it, let’s do it.'”
Another allegation says the judge appears in a video “while in chambers with law books visible behind him and wearing a suit and tie, lip-syncs the following: ‘All my life, I’ve been waiting for somebody to whoop my a–. I mean business! You think you can run up on me and whip my monkey a–? Come on. Come on!'”
In another video, Wilcox allegedly sports a “Beavis and Butt-Head” T-shirt while walking through the Bergen County Courthouse as “Get Down” by Nas — a song with explicit lyrics referring to a criminal case and courtroom shooting — plays in the background.
In still another video, the judge is said to appear seated in a car wearing a “Freedom of Speech” T-shirt and lip-syncing, “Go ahead baby. You hittin’ them corners too god damn fast. You gotta slow this mothaf—- down. You understand? I almost spilled my [Cognac] on this 200-dollar suit.”
One video allegedly flashed screen text while Wilcox smiled at the camera, while lyrics from the Busta Rhymes song “Touch It” could be heard: “She turned around and was tryin’ to put my d— in her mouth. I let her.”
The complaint also mentions a still-frame screenshot of Wilcox’s profile page, which showed the text, “100 followers! Thanks so much!!” followed by three smiling face emoji.
The ethics complaint charges that by posting the videos, Wilcox “exhibited poor judgment and demonstrated disrespect for the Judiciary and an inability to conform to the high standards of conduct expected of judges,” which “undermines public confidence in the Judiciary.”
Further, the complaint alleges that the conduct violates multiple judicial conduct rules which require judges to “observe high standards of conduct so that the integrity and independence of the Judiciary may be preserved,” to “avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety and to act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary,” and “to conduct their extrajudicial activities in a manner that would not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge, demean the judicial office, or interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.”
Robert Hille, Wilcox’s attorney, told Law&Crime in an email that he planned to file a response to the complaint.
Wilcox graduated from the highly prestigious Harvard Law School and began practicing law in 1989. After serving as a federal prosecutor, Wilcox was appointed to the bench as a family court judge in 2011 by then-Gov. Chris Christie.
Although Wilcox himself is not permitted by the rules of judicial conduct to discuss the pending matter, Hille said that his client has been “an excellent and hard-working judge,” and that the videos, which have been taken down from all platforms, “had nothing to do with any case or litigant before him.”
“I don’t think that at the end of the day anybody is going to believe there was any desire to do any harm here,” Hille also said. “Hindsight is 20-20.”
Hille addressed the music contained in the videos that the complaint said was riddled with “profanity, graphic sexual references to female and male body parts, and/or racist terms.”
The attorney said the videos consisted of “only snippets” of music that is “in the public domain and created by mainstream performers.” Indeed, the complaint mentioned music by artists Rihanna, Miguel, Nas, and Busta Rhymes.
“Like all music, it will elicit a different response depending on who is listening,” Hille commented.
The Advisory Committee will likely schedule a formal hearing after receiving Wilcox’s response. If it finds that Wilcox violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, he could face disciplinary actions ranging from a public reprimand to removal from the bench.
You can read the full complaint here.
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