The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - January 3, 2010
After delaying a blood alcohol test for about an hour, Judge Maney registered a 0.07 percent blood alcohol content and was charged with driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired, failure to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle and making an illegal U-turn. The legal blood alcohol content limit for driving while ability impaired is 0.04 to 0.07 percent. Judge Maney also was charged with the more serious offense of driving while intoxicated, which begins at 0.08 percent, because of his delay in taking the blood alcohol test. "By engaging in such conduct, respondent undermined his effectiveness as a judge and brought the judiciary as a whole into disrepute," the commission held. "Moreover, as shown by this record, respondent's misconduct is exacerbated significantly by numerous aggravating circumstances, including his repeated references to his judicial status during his arrest, his requests to the arresting officers for 'professional courtesy' and 'consideration,' and his calculated attempts to avoid the full consequences of his wrongdoing." The majority cited 10 cases of discipline for judges' alcohol-related offenses, five resulting in censure and five in admonition. In the 11th case, a removal recommendation for two driving-while-intoxicated convictions was reduced to censure in light of the judge's impending retirement. The commission noted that in such instances, it considers mitigating and/or aggravating factors, including the level of intoxication, whether the judge caused an accident or injury, whether the conduct was an isolated incident or part of a pattern, the judge's conduct during arrest and the need or willingness of the judge to seek treatment. Here, the majority found the judge's attempt to seek "favorable treatment" to be "especially disturbing." However, it said that it weighed his conduct against "this isolated episode of behavior, respondent's 19 years as a judge, his acknowledgement of misconduct and his recognition that a severe sanction is appropriate." Judge Maney did not contest the sanction of censure, said his attorney, Joseph M. McCoy of Rensselaer. "We decided not to challenge the decision, though he doesn't agree 100 percent with it," Mr. McCoy said in an interview Thursday. "The judge has taken responsibility from the start." Mr. McCoy added that there was no treatment component to the commission's decision and that an evaluation of the judge following his conviction showed he did not need it. Commissioners Thomas A. Klonick, Stephen R. Coffey, Rolando T. Acosta, Joel Cohen, Paul Harding, Nina M. Moore, Karen K. Peters and Terry Jane Ruderman agreed with the censure recommendation.
'The Wrong Lessons'
Joseph W. Belluck, in a dissent joined by Richard D. Emery and Elizabeth B. Hubbard, said Judge Maney's actions "more than" warrant his removal from the bench. That is especially true, Mr. Belluck wrote, given that Judge Maney also presides over a drug treatment court in which drunken-driving offenders are educated about the dangers they pose. "Unfortunately, the lesson Judge Maney apparently took from all of this education was to avoid checkpoints, to keep mouthwash in his car, and, when caught, to identify himself as a judge at the earliest opportunity and thereafter make frequent references to his judicial status, to repeatedly ask the police for 'professional courtesy' and 'consideration,' and to delay taking a breathalyzer test as long as possible," Mr. Belluck wrote. "Those were the wrong lessons, and his attempts to avoid getting caught and held accountable cannot be condoned." David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the state Unified Court System, could not say Thursday whether Judge Maney's status as supervisory judge over Family Courts in the Fifth Judicial District would be affected by the commission's decision. The commission does not have the power to affect the administrative or supervisory positions that judges might have in the court system. Judge Maney ultimately pleaded guilty in Green Island Town Court to a charge of driving while ability impaired, paid a $300 fine and a $260 surcharge, had his license suspended for 90 days, and attended a victim impact panel and a drunken-drivers program. Joel Stashenko can be contacted at email@example.com.