November 28, 2011
Not "Endorsed By the New York Times"
A New York City civil court judge has been admonished for misconduct in connection with her campaign for judicial office.
A majority of the Commission on Judicial Conduct found that the judge reviewed and used a campaign palm card that included photos of her and another judge.
The other judge had been endorsed by the New York Times. The disciplined judge had not. The words "Endorsed by the New York Times" appeared on both sides of the card "in such a manner that it could be interpreted to mean that both respondent and [the other judge] had been endorsed by the Times."
The other judge raised concerns about the palm card prior to the election. The judge consulted with her father and her campaign manager and relied on their advice to continue to use the palm card.
A dissent would find the activity protected by the First Amendment:
As a Commission, our duty is to respect both the First Amendment and the quandry this system imposes on judicial candidates. It ain't pretty and we should not pretend that it is. Therefore, we should give every judicial candidate the benefit of the doubt when there is any margin to do so. That's the least the First Amendment demands and the least we can do to be fair to judges who face this unenviable process which is necessary to ply their idealistic, supremely difficult trade.
In this case, the referee has ably documented the reasons why [the judge] should not be disciplined for participating in the process we all require her to endure. Though she and we may wish that the palm card had been handled differently in retrospect, her hindsight and our aspirations are not a basis to find that she violated the rules.
The commission's press release is linked here. (Mike Frisch)
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