Monday, November 30, 2009
A non-lawyer village court justice was censured by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct for a series of unrelated incidents. In one, he observed a driver allegedly fail to yield for a pedestrian, pursued in his own vehicle with the intent to make a citizen's arrest, induced the driver to pull over and displayed his town justice badge. While he recused himself from the charged matter, he was quoted about the case by print and TV reporters. In another matter, he had ex parte discussions with the mother of a defendant. In a third, he failed to disclose his close personal friendship with the Chief of Police and presided over matters in which the friend was a witness.
A dissent would remove him from the bench:
Notwithstanding this veritable rampage of serious misconduct, [the judge] escapes with a censure. Under normal circumstances I might quietly assent to the majority's lenience, even though I disagree, for fear the dissent would highlight a precedent which likely will give comfort to other wayward judges. But in this case I cannot for a singular reason: when [the judge] came before the Commission at the oral argument, he misrepresented his earlier sworn testimony and calculatedly changed his presentation to conform to the testimony of other witnesses.