LexPress: Judge Not (Anymore)
By Jesse Sunenblick - firstname.lastname@example.org
and Leah Nelson - email@example.com
Southport's Town Justice turns in his robes after an investigation by the Commission on Judicial Conduct. In other CJC news, an infusion of new funds helps the Commission cuts its backlog. Elsewhere, a judge relates his trip to crime-torn Bulgaria.
INVESTIGATION PROMPTS SOUTHPORT TOWN JUSTICE TO STEP DOWN
The Commission on Judicial Conduct has given John Taft, Southport Town Court Justice, his walking papers. A January 2008 complaint alleged that Taft had violated three rules of judicial conduct while overseeing a 2003 case in which his personal physician was accused of speeding: (1) Failing to disqualify himself despite his ties to the defendant; (2) Initiating ex partecommunications with the defendant; (3) Sua sponte adjourning the case "in Contemplation of Dismissal." Though he admitted to the conduct in question in his 2008 answer to the complaint, Taft denied having violated any rules of judicial conduct — but he agreed to resign and never pursue judicial office again. He will step down on May 31. -L.N.
The Commission on Judicial Conduct pared down its backlog by 14 percent last year, says its newly released 2008 annual report. According to The New York Law Journal, CJC administator Robert H. Tembeckjian attributed the cut to last year's budget increase, which, he says, "should enable the commission to even further reduce its backlog this year and, in general, bring its inquiries to a close more promptly absent an unexpected surge in new complaints." Of the record 1,711 complaints the commission received in 2007, 328 were filed against part-time town and village justices, of whom 241, or 73.5 percent, are not lawyers. Close to 90 percent of the complaints were dismissed. -J.S.