February 11, 2013
Judge Censured Over Dissents Favoring Removal
The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has released its December 13 opinion censuring a judge who facilitated the criminal conduct of an attorney who he had appointed to administer numerous estates.
There are impassioned dissents that convincingly argue that removal from office is the only appropriate sanction.
From Member Emery:
In asserting that mitigation supports censure rather than removal, the best the majority can muster is the very essense of respondent's misconduct - that "respondent's judgment was clouded by his long professional relationship with an attorney who had served as counsel for several decades." Why the majority has lost its bearings in this case is a total mystery to me. Perhaps it is unduly influenced by the impending end od respondent's term. Id so, say so. Perhaps the dismissal of several other charges based on the Referee's findings influenced my colleagues. Perhaps respondent's engaging personality at our hearing clouded clear judgment. Or perhaps excellent lawyering on his behalf led the majority astray. I am perplexed and disappointed in the lack of accountability this case will convey to others. (citations to record omitted)
What I do know is that this is one of the most egregious cases that has ever been litigated before this Commission during the nine years that I have served. To allow respondent to escape removal on these undisputed facts out of deference or undue leniency toeards a retiring judge degrades our function to a degree I have not yet witnessed. Respondent's favoritism towards [attorney] Lippman should not be compounded by our favoritism towards him.
Links to the records of the proceedings may be found here. (Mike Frisch)
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