Monday, October 24, 2016

JUDICIAL MISCONDUCT


 
Matter of Simon 2016 NY Slip Op 06855 Decided on October 20, 2016 Court of Appeala:


"The misconduct giving rise to that concession "qualifies as 'truly egregious'" (Restaino, 10 NY3d at 590). The record reflects that, among other things, petitioner used a sanction — a tool meant to "shield" from frivolous conduct — as a "sword" to punish a legal services organization for a perceived slight in an inexcusable and patently improper way (see 22 NYCRR 130-1.1 [a] [authorizing the imposition of sanctions, but precluding town and village courts from applying such penalties]). The record is also replete with instances in which petitioner used his office and standing as a platform from which to bully and to intimidate. To that end, it is undisputed that petitioner engaged in ethnic smearing and name-calling and repeatedly displayed poor temperament — perhaps most significantly, by engaging in a physical altercation with a student worker.

Those actions are representative of an even more serious problem. Petitioner — in what allegedly was a grossly misguided attempt to motivate — repeatedly threatened to hold various officials and employees of the Village of Spring Valley in contempt without cause or process. Those threats "exceeded all measure of acceptable judicial conduct" (Matter of [*4]Blackburne [State Commn. on Jud. Conduct], 7 NY3d 213, 221 [2006]), and we are particularly troubled by the testimony of one court officer, who suggested that petitioner's threats were so common that they became "a joke." The matter may have been a laughing one to that officer, but it was not to others.

Significantly, too, petitioner's hectoring extended beyond the courthouse. In what ostensibly was an attempt to undermine a former co-Judge and an apparent political adversary, petitioner willfully injected himself into the political process involving the election of an office other than his own. All of the foregoing actions reflect a pattern of calculated misconduct that militates against petitioner's assertion that the misbehavior complained of will not be repeated if he is allowed to remain on the bench [FN1]. Petitioner's misconduct apparently was tempered only by the intervention of the Commission, and at the hearing held with respect to this matter he appeared unrepentant and evasive, testifying falsely on at least two occasions in an attempt to minimize his misconduct — all of which renders suspect his guarantees of better behavior."

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