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Judge Facing Ethics Panel Over Boxing

January 22, 2002

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ A state judicial ethics panel is considering whether a municipal court judge should face sanctions for working as a boxing referee while he served on the bench.

Steven Smoger, a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame who has presided in several Atlantic County towns, was told to leave the ring when he became a municipal judge in 1992. He was told that his work as referee degraded the integrity and impartiality of the bench.

However, Smoger, 57, did not comply with the order and continued to serve as a judge and a referee. He recently worked several high-profile bouts involving Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Evander Holyfield.

Smoger also is accused of several other ethical violations, including issuing warrants for people who arrived late to court, soliciting donations and serving as prosecutor of the Atlantic City Alcoholic Beverage Control Board while sitting as a judge.

The Margate resident recently resigned judgeships in his hometown and in Port Republic and Ventnor, but said those decisions were not related to the ethics charges. He previously served as municipal judge in Pleasantville.

It was not known when the nine-member ethics panel would issue its decision on any or all of the charges.

If Smoger is found guilty, the panel could recommend penalties from private reprimand to dismissal. However, the state Supreme Court would have the final say on discipline.

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