Tuesday, January 10, 2023
The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct reports that a Surrogate's Court judge has resigned in the face of pending misconduct allegations
Judge Thompson was charged in May 2022 with a Formal Written Complaint, alleging that she made inappropriate comments to and about employees and judges of the Unified Court System; displayed bias against various individuals and ethnicities; failed to administer Surrogate Court matters in a timely manner, leading to substantial delays; and, as a candidate for Surrogate in 2018, failed to complete mandatory campaign ethics education in a timely manner.
A formal hearing was scheduled to commence on January 17, 2023, before a Commission referee, Mark S. Arisohn.
After Judge Thompson produced a letter from her physician on November 30, 2022, claiming she was “not medically fit to stand trial at this time” and that further medical procedures were likely, the Commission authorized a Second Formal Written Complaint against her, dated December 16, 2022, alleging that she was medically unfit to remain in office.
In lieu of filing an Answer to the Second Complaint, Judge Thompson agreed to leave office permanently due to her medical situation. She also agreed to discontinue any lawsuits she had commenced against the Commission. Judge Thompson waived the statutory provision of confidentiality applicable to Commission proceedings, to the limited extent that the stipulation and the Commission’s order accepting it would be public.
Judge Thompson has served as a Judge of the Surrogate’s Court since 2019. Her current term would have expired on December 31, 2026. She previously served as a Judge of the New York City Civil Court from 2011 to 2018.
The City had reported on the matter
In December 2021, after a court inspector general’s report documented hateful statements that Brooklyn Surrogate Court Judge Harriet Thompson allegedly made in front of court staff about Hispanics, whites, gays, West Indians, the overweight and the ill, the state’s Office of Court Administration blocked the judge from hearing new cases. She was also made to surrender her keys and access cards to court facilities.
The inspector general referred the matter to the state’s judicial commission and Thompson remained on payroll during the still ongoing probe of the claims about her remarks.
On one occasion, the inspector general accused Thompson of insulting various members of the judiciary for their sexual orientation, allegedly saying, “Being gay is an abomination to mankind. Man shall not lay with man.”
On another occasion, the inspector general alleges, Thompson declared that she did “not like Hispanic people,” continuing: “They have a deceitful trait that goes way back to biblical times ... The men are always stealing, and the women are no better, they lie, steal, and use their vaginas for anything they want.”
The stipulation reached in the matter is linked here. (Mike Frisch)