Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a city court judge who while engaged in a part-time law practice had (1) arranged to have charges against a client sent to a court that had no jurisdiction to handle the case and avoid a prohibition against practicing in his own court, (2) failed to disqualify himself or disclose a conflict in a case where he had previously represented the complaining witness, (3) violated a statute that prohibited his handling three matters that had originated in his court, and (4) drafted papers for a client for a matter in his own court without identifying himself as the client's attorney. The censure was deemed appropriate because he had been candid and cooperative and, as a now full-time judge, no longer practices law.
A dissent favored removal from office. Noting that the judge's exit from private practice did not mitigate and that his prior service as a district attorney aggravated the misconduct, the dissent does not mince words: "It is contrary to logic and precedent to leave a judge on the bench who has so egregiously violated the trust of judicial office by manipulating the very system in which he is a judge for his personal benefit and the benefit of a private client."
The commission's press release is linked here. (Mike Frisch)