Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct censured a non-lawyer village court justice for misconduct in presiding over two traffic matters.
One matter involved a defendant who had appeared before the justice on many prior occasions. The justice "coerced a guilty plea by threatening to set bail" and warned the defendant that he could spend a month in jail awaiting trial. He did release the defendant, but "showing bias and prejudgment, [the justice] warned the defendant to 'bring money' when he appeared for trial."
The defendant complained to the Commission about the justice. That complaint caused the justice to deny a request for extension that was routinely granted in other cases. The justice denied the request and stated: "You turned me in to the state and you want me to do you a favor?"
The second incident involved a defendant and his father who the justice believed had treated the court clerk in a rude manner. The justice threatened the father with jail and charges if there was further harassment.
Why was the judge so angry? The court clerk is his wife. (Mike Frisch)