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Friday, February 20, 2009

NY State Supreme Court Judge Resigns, Admits Wrongdoing

Makowski resigns as State Supreme Court justice
State is probing tie to friend’s DWI case
The Buffalo News by Patrick Lakamp, Gene Warner and Matt Gryta

Joseph G. Makowski this afternoon resigned his seat as a State Supreme Court justice -- but escaped criminal charges -- in the wake of a state judicial investigation and a potential grand jury probe of written claims he made trying to clear a friend in a drunken-driving case. In a letter to Justice Sharon S. Townsend, administrative judge of the Eighth Judicial District, Makowski said: "This letter will advise you that I have decided to resign my position as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court, effective March 5, 2009. It has been a distinct privilege to serve as a member of the court for the past 10 years."

For at least three months, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct has been asking local law enforcement officials what they know about the affidavit Makowski signed after the Sept. 2 DWI arrest of former prosecutor Anne E. Adams. Makowski filed that affidavit as a witness after having been with Adams in the hours before her arrest. In that statement, dated Sept. 11, Makowski repeatedly stated that nothing in Adams’ behavior suggested she couldn’t drive safely home from a downtown Buffalo restaurant that night. Several witnesses, though, have given authorities statements that suggest Adams showed obvious signs of being intoxicated, both in her manner and in her driving. "Before we presented our case to the grand jury, Justice Makowski, like any other witness, was given a choice: recant, tell the truth and cooperate or be prosecuted," District Attorney Frank Sedita said. "Today, Makowski made the choice to recant, reject the affidavit and give our investigators a truthful statement," Sedita said. "Additionally, Justice Makowski agreed to provide truthful testimony against Ms. Adams in the grand jury and at trial. "Because of his recantation and cooperation, I will not seek to brand Makowski a criminal. However, I am deeply troubled by Makowski's original affidavit and initial conduct. Accordingly, Makowski, in lieu of criminal prosecution, will also be required to resign from the bench."

Adams today pleaded guilty to misdemeanor drunken driving, falsifying business record charges and attempted to tamper with physical evidence linked to her Sept. 2 drunken driving arrest. Adams, 46, who runs the trial technique program at the University at Buffalo Law School pleaded guilty before Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio just before 4 p.m., shortly after Makowski submitted his resignation letter from the bench. Adams, of Quaker Road, Orchard Park, faces a possible jail term of up to two years when she returns to court for sentencing April 23. Also faxing a copy of his resignation letter to Justice Ann Pfau, the state's chief administrative judge, Makowski wrote that he had "decided to resign my position as a justice of the New York State Supreme court effective March 5, 2009." "It has been a distinct privilege to serve as a member of the Court for the past 10 years," Makowski added in his two-sentence resignation letter. DiTullio allowed Adams to remain free without bail and said she will impose "a very thoughtful" sentence. Adams also could be placed on probation and faces professional disciplinary action. Under the plea deal, Adams admitted to driving drunk on Sept. 2 and, on Sept. 3, falsifying the date when a physician drew blood from her -- in an apparent attempt to counter police claims she was legally drunk during her Sept. 2 arrest.

"I would expect that as a consequence of this plea, Ms. Adams may lose her license to practice law and her professorship at UB Law School," Sedita said. "Her punishments will be determined by others, including a county court judge and the attorney grievance committee. Whether or not she loses her license and or job, Ms. Adams will be forever branded a criminal."
Adams was charged originally with aggravated DWI, accused of having a blood-alcohol content of 0.19 percent at the time of her arrest. That’s more than twice the state’s legal limit. A call to Makowski’s attorney, Joel L. Daniels, was not returned. “Ms. Adams has a 20-year, high-profile career as both a prosecutor and defense attorney,” Makowski wrote in his affidavit. “She also holds a full-time faculty position at UB Law School. These charges, even if resulting in an acquittal, would seriously damage her reputation in the community and future professional prospects. For these reasons, I believe a dismissal in the interests of justice is warranted.” Investigators were studying the following possible discrepancies between Makowski’s affidavit and witnesses’ statements to authorities, according to sources close to the case:

• “When we left the restaurant, I walked Ms. Adams to her car,” the affidavit states. “There was nothing unusual in her speech, gait or mannerisms. She was entirely appropriate.” An eyewitness, however, told law enforcement officials that Adams was stumbling as she headed for her car and that the man with her was holding her to keep her from falling.

•“After speaking with Ms. Adams for another five minutes, I told her I had to get on the Skyway to my mother’s house,” the judge wrote. “She told me she was heading to her home in Angola on the same route. I drove over the Skyway to South Buffalo with Ms. Adams’ vehicle in my continuous presence.” But an eyewitness told authorities Makowski also got into Adams’ car, and the two sat inside the car for about 20 minutes. Adams then pulled her convertible into another part of the Shanghai Red’s restaurant parking lot, near the marina. That is where she backed into a parked car before pulling away. A Buffalo police officer, parked nearby, noticed what happened and pulled up alongside her vehicle. He recognized Adams and said to her, “Counselor, where are you going?” a law enforcement source told The News. The judge was in Adams’ car at the time, the same source said. Adams then parked her car and went into the restaurant to try to find out who owned the car she had struck with her vehicle. A restaurant employee discovered the car belonged to another employee. A few days later, Adams sent a payment of several hundred dollars to the employee to cover the damage.

• “We traveled along Route 5, which is now under construction,” wrote Makowski, who was following her in his car. “Her driving was entirely appropriate. She drove at the appropriate speed, she negotiated turns and tight construction lanes properly.” But another driver later reported an erratic driver in that area. Hamburg Police Officer Vincent Pupo III pulled Adams’ vehicle over when he saw her convertible weaving from lane to lane, nearly striking a guardrail, near Ford Motor Co.’s Buffalo Stamping Plant, according to a police report. plakamp@buffnews.com and gwarner@buffnews.com

9 comments:

disgusted said...

What this judge did was wrong but I know judges who've done a hell of a lot worse and they don't get punished. I agree with this website that the judicial 'ethics' committee is corrupt. They go after whomever has been identified as a target and friend of friends are not held accountable. It's a pretty sad day when even our judges aren't treated fairly. And come to think of it what kind of internal guidance is going on, or NOT going on, that allows a judge to even think he can get away with lying about a criminal DWI investigation. I don't get it. We need to HELP our judges MORE, behind the scenes-- before they get into trouble. And we need to remind everyone that NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW, even judges. And you can't call your friend the judge to get out of something. This is a deep, dark social problem that has taken over the state: Pay to play, and it's "who you know."

Anonymous said...

It's quite sad when something like this has to happen. There needs to be real change, and complete transparency in how our public servants operate- this will help the process, insure fairness and even help the individual public servants like this judge. It seems that someone should be telling these judges (and maybe once a month!) that they can do this, they can't do that... that you're not above the law, you've taken a sworn oath to uphold the law.... Tell them how to deal with friends and family who are looking for favors, which usually means they want help either breaking or bending the law.

Anonymous said...

I can't think of one judge I know who hasn't fixed at least one "problem" for a friend, etc. It's all very interesting......

Anonymous said...

The most ironic part of this story is that Anne Adams had 3 false affidavits signed, that she herself wrote and handed to those she attempted to have influence the smaller town court..one by Makowski...Supreme Ct, one by her personal physician and one unidentified...all because she was... BEING CONSIDERED... for a seat on the Supreme Ct bench and the DWI would have prevented her from either running or being selected for it..as OCA does with that judiciary trickery.

So what happens to the Doctor for his part in writing the false information on the blood sample and affidavit, when he took the blood sample the day after her arrest, but marked it the day of the arrest... is up to the medical board. Ms Adams pled to 3 misd. and the Judge has lost his job. All three are now in disgrace. We on the other hand, have gained renewed integrity within the system through their losses and full disclosure of what...some judicial and legal people view as ...just the judicial process working it's efforts in the background to subvert the system.

The people of upstate NY have gained a victory in THE NY STATE JUSTICE SYSTEM, today... without the slow AND difficult choices the CJC was hoping not to make......and they should be elated that there is more to come!

victim said...

victim of the american injustice system says what took so long? who finally put a gun to this bums head?

Anonymous said...

It is well known and not surprising that OCA condones and participates in altering court and legal documents and transcripts...so shouldn't OCA have defended this Supreme Ct. Judge's position of submittimg this false and influencing document to a much lower ct?
Why should Makowski resign...even though it was part of the deal he made with the District Attorney's Office, to avoid criminal posecution.
OCA -8th dist. should have stepped in and influenced the DA's office by stating we have done this very action ourselves and no one has ever addressed it's criminality...and we used it in multiple ways to achieve the results we needed and wanted...and most importantly got!!!
My Judge Townsend..are you not a hypocrite by accepting this resignation..because you yourself have done this...and worse? Just because you have not been officially outed for it..you know in your heart that this activity is in your resume.
Let's be fair 8th district...and let's have all of you in the judiciary admit to what Makowski did as something many of you have done in some similar or clandestine way...but Makowski's unethical and criminal behavior... just happened to be revealed by the media.
See the MEDIA is the answer to bringing integrity into the courts and the lives of the NY citizens....but they have to be forced into doing that for all of us...and you must ask them...why is that???

Beaming in Buffalo said...

It's important to remember that the useless Commission on Judicial Conduct had to act because our District Attorney Frank Sedita had the balls to go after two lying lawyers- one of whom was a judge and the other one a knucklehead New York State law school employee ! Three cheers for Frank Sedita!! You downstate bloggers should get to know this guy. He'll clean up some of OCA's do-do, the drippings of which flow from way up north all the way to the southern tip of Manhattan. Yup, this state's an ethics cesspool.

Anonymous said...

Question: does a dishonest judge who had to resign still get his cash from appreciative attorneys and litigants? What are the procedures to insure that payoffs continue?

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See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:


               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
         
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2