Monday, April 14, 2008

Supporting The Troops

The always-entertaining New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct ordered the censure of a justice of the Farmington Town Court for dismissing a speeding charge based on ex parte communications with a friend, the husband of the defendant. "Such conduct constitutes ticket-fixing, which is a form of favoritism that has long been condemned." Why the lenient disposition?  According to the majority:

"Several factors in this case indicate that censure, rather than removal, is appropriate.  It is apparent that respondent was motivated in significant part by the desire to provide 'a very small token of thanks' to an acquaintance in the military who was then serving in Iraq.  While this does not excuse respondent’s actions, it appears that his judgment was clouded by that fact and by his desire to make what he viewed as a patriotic gesture.  We also note that respondent has an otherwise unblemished record in five years as a town justice.  Thus, after a careful review of the facts, we conclude that this episode warrants censure, rather than removal from office.  We continue to regard ticket-fixing as extremely serious misconduct and underscore that such conduct will be condemned with strong measures. "

The dissenters are not buying censure:

"As Jack Nicholson’s military command character in 'A Few Good Men' said under withering cross-examination, 'You can’t handle the truth.'  Nor can Judge Lew.  The truth is that Judge Lew is guilty of ticket-fixing and much more:  his mendacious defense of patriotism and propriety clash and conflict, revealing a judge who is a danger to a public that he will serve only when it is convenient for him to follow the law.  He should be removed."

One of the lawyers for the Commission has a name appropriate to the case: Stephanie A. Fix.

(Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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