HBO series
In this April, 2010 file photo, Nelson Johnson, of Hammonton, an Atlantic County Superior Court judge and author of "Boardwalk Empire,", left, talks with Terence Winter, the series creator of the "Boardwalk Empire" television series for HBO, at the Tropicana Casino and Resort. The two were at the Atlantic City Hotel and Lodging Association gala dinner, where Johnson was autographing his book. Vernon Ogrodnek

As the buzz builds around the new HBO series "Boardwalk Empire," inspired by local author Nelson Johnson's nonfiction book of the same name, the man who started it all is being forced to keep quiet.

Johnson, who became a Superior Court judge years after the book was published, has been ordered by the New Jersey Judiciary to cease his promotional activities in the buildup to the series premiere this Sunday, the book's publisher confirmed.

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John Bryans, publisher for Plexus Publishing in Medford Township, Burlington County, said Johnson received a letter from the Judiciary last week barring him from participating in any more media interviews or public appearances. The court is questioning whether the promotions violate the code of judicial conduct.

Bryans said he was not concerned about the effect the restriction may have on book sales after Plexus republished the book to coincide with the series premiere.

"I'm disappointed, but I won't second guess what the judiciary wants to do," Bryans said. "I feel pretty confident that we got our message out there. I know Nelson loves to get out there and talk to people. I feel bad for him. It's too bad that he won't be able for now to be promoting."

Plexus published the book, "Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City," in 2002 while Johnson worked as a private attorney. In late 2005, the state Senate Judiciary Committee approved Johnson for his judgeship. During interviews with various media outlets, he was adamant that stories separate his position as a judge from his personal pursuits as a historian and author.

Johnson was unavailable to be interviewed. Whether he will submit a formal request to continue his promotional activities is unclear.

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