Wednesday, June 10, 2020
In Disciplinary Proceeding Against Judge, Lawyer Argues Use of the C-Word for Woman Attorney was not Gender Bias, but Indirect Compliment
A part-time judge's use of the C-word doesn’t amount to obvious gender bias, his lawyer argued before New York's top court Tuesday.
Lawyer Michael Blakey told the New York Court of Appeals that a censure would be sufficient punishment for his client, Judge Paul Senzer of the Northport Village Court of Suffolk County, Law360 reports.
The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct had recommended removal of Senzer for language in nine emails he sent while representing two clients seeking the right to visit their grandchild.
According to the commission, Senzer used the B-word to describe the client’s daughter, and the C-word to describe the daughter’s lawyer.
In one email, he referred to the daughter’s lawyer as a “c- - - on wheels.” In another, he referred to the lawyer as “eyelashes.” Senzer also referred to a court’s attorney referee as an “asshole” and the daughter and her ex-husband as “scumbags.”
Law360 covered Blakey’s argument, made in-person before the court judges, with the exception of one judge who participated remotely.
“We don’t think the gender bias is obvious and we don’t concede it. We could go into multiple interpretations of the words used, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I can just point out the worst one—the C-word,” Blakey said.
“It’s not a C-word by itself. It’s a term of art: ‘C on wheels.’ Which, obviously, refers to the aggressiveness of that attorney. It’s a left-handed compliment is one way to look at it,” Blakey said.
Blakey added that the language is “obviously inappropriate” but argued that its use didn’t merit removal.
Senzer was referring to lawyer Karen McGuire in the C-word email. She offered a sarcastic reaction when contacted by Law360.
“Isn’t it every female attorney’s dream to be called a c- - - on wheels? Right?” she said, spelling out the letters for the word. “Don’t we swear our oath and say, ‘This is what I want my legacy to be’?”