Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Anything But That

A  judge of the County, Family and Surrogate's Courts in Hamilton Count has been admonished by the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct for conduct described in a press release

During her 2019 campaign for judge of the Hamilton County, Family and Surrogate’s Courts, Judge Coffinger (1) violated the prohibition on political fundraising by advertising tickets up to $35 apiece for a local Republican picnic and (2) distributed a misleading sample ballot that falsely identified one of her Republican primary opponents as a Democrat shortly before the election.

In admonishing Judge Coffinger, the Commission noted that she acknowledged her misconduct.

The picnic

On June 3, June 9, June 17 and June 21, 2019, respondent posted to her campaign's Facebook page an invitation to the Hamilton County Republican picnic. It read, "You are Invited 2019 Republican Picnic and Meet the Candidates Day!" The invitation offered food, drinks, "Music, Bingo, Door prizes and morel:' Ticket prices ranged from $12 to $35. The invitation also read, "Tickets - See any Republican Committee Member." 

The Democrat who wasn't

In 2019, there were approximately 2,659 registered Republican voters in Hamilton County, and approximately 954 registered Democrats.

At all times relevant to this charge, Ms. Purdue was a registered Republican, respondent knew Ms. Purdue to be a Republican, and respondent knew that Ms. Purdue was running against her in the Republican primary. Respondent also knew that Ms. Purdue had been the elected Hamilton County District Attorney since 2012, and respondent believed Ms. Purdue had widespread name recognition among Republican voters in the county.

A winning strategy

Respondent won the primary election with a total of 748 votes, defeating Ms. Purdue, who received 351 votes, and Mr. Hyde, who received 200 votes. Respondent thereafter won the general election in November 2019 with a total of 1,446 votes, defeating Ms. Purdue, who received 1,020 votes on the Democratic line. Ms. Purdue was nominated by the Democratic Party for the general election without a primary and with no opponents, notwithstanding that she was a registered Republican.

(Mike Frisch)


Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink


This caught my eye because I grew up in Hamilton County. Am I reading this correctly? that a judge can lie (about someone running against her) and fund raise (when it is not allowed) and get only a censure - retaining her judgeship for another 8 years? What is to keep others from behaving the same way?

Posted by: LizRyan Cole | Mar 16, 2022 7:47:41 AM

It is a fair point that judicial discipline disappoints more often than it affirms the need for impartiality. This is particularly true in election misconduct matters as exemplified by the Gableman fiasco in Wisconsin. I mean the old fiasco, not the current one.

Posted by: Michael Frisch | Mar 18, 2022 5:23:55 AM

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