Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Proceedings Will Go Forward In Judicial Misconduct Matter

A report from the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct:

The Commission authorized formal disciplinary charges against Lee L. Holzman, Surrogate of Bronx County, in January 2011. Judge Holzman filed an Answer, and the matter was referred to retired Supreme Court Justice Felice K. Shea, as Referee to hear and report proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. The hearing commenced on the morning of September 12, 2011, at which time Judge Holzman signed a written waiver of confidentiality.

Prior to September 12, 2011, Judge Holzman commenced a proceeding pursuant to Article 78 of the CPLR, seeking to stay the Commission proceedings against him. The matter was assigned to Acting Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe in Manhtattan. Justice Jaffe sealed the record of the Article 78 proceeding, pending her decision. She rendered decision dated September 8, 2011, dismissing Judge Holzman's Article 78 petition.

Judge Holzman, by counsel, returned to Supreme Court on the morning of September 12, 2011, to renew his application to stay the Commission proceedings against him. Judge Jaffe issued a stay, pending decision. The Commission proceeding before Referee Felice Shea   was therefore halted. Judge Jaffe thereafter issued a decision, denying Judge Holzman's renewed application.

The hearing before Referee Felice Shea was scheduled to resume on October 11.

On October 5, 2011, Judge Holzman, by counsel, again sought a stay of the Commission proceedings, pending his appeal of the Supreme Court decision dismissing his Article 78 petition. Associate Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam of the Appellate Division, First Department, granted an interim stay, pending determination by a full panel of the Court as to  Judge Holzman's request for a stay. Justice Abdus-Salaam set an expedited schedule for submission of briefs and consideration of the application by the court. Briefs were filed and the matter was fully submitted on October 12.

Accordingly, the hearing before Referee Felice Shea, scheduled to resume on October 11, was postponed, pending decision by the Appellate Division on Surrogate Holzman's application.

On December 6, 2011, the Appellate Division issued an Order, denying Judge Holzman's application for a stay of Commission proceedings, pending appeal. The disciplinary hearing against Judge Holzman therefore resumed. The Referee  presided on the following dates: December 14, 15, 16 and 19; January 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 17. The hearing, which was held at 111 Centre Street, Room 687, in Manhattan, concluded on January 17, 2012.

After the transcripts of the hearing were completed, the parties  submitted briefs to the Referee, who issued a written report to the Commission dated July 18, 2012, recommending findings of fact and conclusions of law.  The parties will now submit briefs and appear for oral argument at the Commission as to whether the Referee's report should be accepted and what, if any, sanction should be imposed.

On March 1, 2012, the Appellate Division affirmed Judge Jaffe's decision and denied Judge Holzman's petition for a stay of Commission proceedings.

The documents may be found at this link. (Mike Frisch)


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