Monday, June 29, 2009

Drinks At Shanghi Red's Leads To Judge's Resignation reports on a judicial misconduct matter:

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita says State Supreme Court Judge Joseph Makowski and local attorney Anne Adams conspired to try and make a DWI case against Adams go away.

Last September, Makowski and Adams met for drinks at Shanghai Red's on the Buffalo waterfront.

Afterwards, Adams was driving home through Hamburg, with Makowski following behind her, when Adams was spotted driving erratically and was pulled over by police.

A breathalyzer test showed her blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

Despite that, Makowski in attempt to cover up the case, submitted a sworn statement to a judge saying that Adams' driving had been fine. He also stated that she had had only two drinks.

The following day, Adams, in her attempt to have the case against her dismissed, had her blood drawn.

By then, it showed just a trace amount of alcohol in her system, but Adams then claimed in a statement to the court that the blood had been drawn the night of her arrest.

Late Friday afternoon, Adams pled guilty to the DWI charge, as well another two charges related to her tampering with evidence (the blood test).

"Her conduct was disgraceful and she is now being held accountable for that conduct," said Sedita.

Makowski recanted his statement and resigned from the bench.

He will not face any criminal charges.

Scott Brown: "Knowing that Judge Makowski lied in his sworn statement, why not prosecute him?"

Sedita: "Under the law, if Judge Makowski chose to come before the grand jury and recant, there would be no criminal charges against him, so we fashioned a result where he recanted before the grand jury met, he must resign from the bench, and that means his reputation is disgraced."

Adams is scheduled to be sentenced in April, that sentence can range from probation, to two years in prison.

There's a chance that both Adams and Makowski could lose their licenses to practice law.

The bottom line says Sedita, "They tried to fix a case Scott, and they got caught."

This situation isn't sitting well with the local Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization.

Elizabeth Obad, The president of the Erie County M.A.D.D. chapter, calls this situation a disgrace and wants to see a stiff penalty for Adams when she is sentenced in April.

"We look up to our attorneys and our judges and expect them to enforce the law and I think it's horrible when someone who could have possibly been sitting on the bench and someone who was on the bench to do something like this," said Obad. "I think it's absolutely horrible and I would like to see some still penalties in this matter."

The proceedings before the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct leading to the judge's resignation from the bench are linked here and here. reports that the attorney was a former prosecutor and was sentenced to imprisonment for the driving incident. (Mike Frisch)

Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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