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Monday, June 14, 2010
NY State Judge and Attorney Hit With Sanctions in Federal Case
Tormey, lawyer hit with sanctions over Klim data in civil rights lawsuit
The Syracuse Post-Standard by Jim O'Hara - April 30, 2010
Syracuse, NY - Fifth Judicial District Administrative Justice James Tormey and his state lawyer have been ordered to pay $2,000 for “gross negligence” for using negative information about former Family Court Judge David Klim to try to get a civil rights lawsuit against Tormey dismissed. In a 17-page decision released Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Andrew Baxter concluded Assistant Attorney General Charles Quackenbush – the lawyer representing Tormey and three other local court officials in the lawsuit – should have kept the information confidential as required by a court order or shared it with the other side. The case involves a 2007 lawsuit filed by Bobette Morin, the former chief clerk of Onondaga County Family Court, claiming she was forced out of her job after refusing to help Tormey gather negative information about Klim when Klim was running for state Supreme Court in 2002. The lawsuit claims Tormey then orchestrated a campaign to have former executive assistant John Voninski, Family Court Judge Bryan Hedges and Hedges’ law clerk William Dowling, undermine Morin. They are all named along with Tormey as defendants. They and their lawyer are all liable for the $2,000 sanction. That lawsuit is on hold pending the defense appeal of U.S. District Judge David Hurd’s decision that the defendants were not entitled to immunity. It was the defense motion to have the Morin lawsuit dismissed – rejected by Hurd in June – that touched off the dispute resulting in Baxter’s blunt criticism of the defense. The defense had gotten U.S. Magistrate Gustave DiBianco to issue two orders that any information the defense had generated about Klim should be kept confidential to protect the reputation of Klim, who died in 2006. That information included documentation about Klim lagging behind in his Family Court caseload and his billing the state on one occasion for attending a conference in New York City when the conference was actually held in Albany. Klim acknowledged the error, stated the conference had moved without him realizing that and repaid the state for the trip upon discovering the mistake. When the defense filed papers last year seeking to have Morin’s lawsuit dismissed, some of those Klim-related documents were attached to an affidavit from Tormey in support of the dismissal motion. When Morin’s lawyer, William Frumkin, complained to Hurd, Quackenbush said the documents had been provided to Frumkin as part of the discovery process. That was not true and it led to the matter coming before Baxter for sanctions. Baxter rejected the defense claims they did not know DiBianco’s protective orders covered Klim’s caseload and travel documents. He noted some of the documents were attached to the defense motion to keep the information confidential in the first place. If that information was to be used by the defense, it had to be shared with Morin’s lawyer, Baxter noted. Failure to do so “is an inexcusable violation of Judge DiBianco’s orders that reflects, at least, gross negligence,” Baxter wrote. Baxter noted he was not making any finding about whether Quackenbush intentionally misled Hurd when he claimed the documents had been provided to Frumkin as part of discovery. “However, defense counsel’s various efforts to explain his conduct are troubling to this court and provide no justification for his failure to comply with Judge DiBianco’s discovery orders,” Baxter concluded. Frumkin declined comment Friday. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said the state was reviewing the decision and its options. Tormey’s office said he would not comment.
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Posted by Corrupt Courts Administrator at 12:03 PM
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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:
Worthy of Review: Click here to see 'Sex Scandal at Attorney Ethics Committee'
Worthy of Review: Click here to see 'NY Attorney pleads guilty to federal felony; Gets law license back'