The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise
A dairy worker who serves as a part-time Town Court justice should be censured for handling a case in a manner that "constitutes ticket fixing," the state Commission on Judicial Conduct determined in a decision Monday. The record established that Town Justice Walter J. Schurr, who sits in Allegany County, had given "lenient treatment" to a friend of a friend who had been issued a speeding ticket, according to the commission. The intermediary was one of the judge's dairy coworkers, and the two spoke about the case at the plant. Following that conversation, Justice Schurr approached the trooper who issued the ticket and ascertained that he was willing to accept a lesser disposition. In imposing that lesser disposition, the commission wrote, Justice Schurr created the impression that the defendant's punishment was not based on the "merits" but upon his friendship with the co-worker. In five other cases, the commission found, Justice Schurr had reduced speeding charges without the consent of the prosecution, as was required. As mitigating factors, the commission noted that Justice Schurr was new to the bench at the time and erroneously believed it was his job to negotiate pleas.