N.J. Stat. Ann. §2A:15-49(c) provides that no judge shall preside at a trial when he has given his opinion upon a matter in question in such action.
In February of 1957, the Borough advertised for bids on contract for the collection of garbage, ashes, waste, and other refuse in the municipality. In April, it awarded a five-year contract for the collection and disposal of garbage to a contractor. In May, the borough and the contractor executed a written contract for a five year period. The contractor was to have exclusive right to collect all garbage, ashes, and refuse in the borough. In August, the borough council adopted an ordinance that prohibited any person other than the municipal contractor from collecting. Plaintiff corporation brought suit against defendant borough, challenging an ordinance that approved an exclusive contract for garbage service. During trial, the trial court questioned the witnesses and converted the action into a municipal investigation of the contract. The court then found for plaintiff.
Were the trial judge's actions prejudicial to defendants?
The court reversed the decision and remanded the case. It found that the trial judge had overstepped the bounds of his authority, and that his actions were prejudicial to the defendants. The court concluded that the ordinance was valid and that the plaintiff had no standing to attack it.