October 28, 2008
The New York Court of Appeals today upheld an order of removal from judicial office of an elected family court judge. The court sustained five charges of misconduct relating to his "violation of litigants' rights when he entered defaults and sentenced them, in absentia, to jail...as a consequence of [his] disregard of fundamental rights, five litigants were sentenced to significant terms of incarceration and at least three served several months in jail on the unlawful sentences he imposed." The judge had testified that "he wouldn't have handled any of the cases any differently."
The court noted that the removed judge "continues to believe that his actions were a permissible exercise of the ' wide discretion' given Family Court judges 'for dealing with the complexities of family life.' He fails to grasp that with such discretion comes grave responsibilities to the litigants before him as well as to their children." (Mike Frisch)
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The Court of Appeals spends much effort discussing the facts of the case, but even so, where is the line between appealable legal error and legal error constituting judicial misconduct?
Posted by: FixedWing | Oct 28, 2008 8:15:45 AM