Sunday, November 20, 2011

NY: Complaints Against Judges are on the Rise

It may be the Internet or public disclosure of past disciplinary cases, but the number of complaints against New York’s judges hit a new record in 2010.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct, chaired by Perinton Town Justice Thomas A. Klonick, received a record 2,025 complaints in 2010, according to its just-released report. That is 170 more than in 2009 and 102 more than the previous high of 1,923 in 2008.

Klonick said sometimes the number of complaints spike when higher-profile cases of judges being removed or disciplined makes statewide news. He said the Internet has also created more awareness of the commission and makes it easier for people to download a form and post a complaint.

“Overall, although the number of complaints has increased, the number of judges disciplined has been about the same,” Klonick said.

The commission is responsible for investigating complaints of misconduct against judges of the state Unified Court System and, where appropriate, disciplining them for ethics violations.

In 2010, it conducted 439 inquiries, authorized 225 full-fledged investigations and rendered 15 public decisions, including a Saratoga County Family Court judge, Gilbert L. Abramson, being removed from office in October.

There were also seven public censures, five public admonitions and two public stipulations in which judges agreed to leave and never again hold judicial office.

Fourteen judges resigned during commission proceedings, 36 confidential cautionary letters were issued and 226 matters were still pending at the end of the year.

Most complaints were unfounded. Some were referred to other agencies such as 29 matters that were sent to the Office of Court Administration, typically dealing with relatively isolated instances of delay, poor record-keeping or other administrative issues. Five matters were referred to an attorney grievance committee; two to a district attorney’s office; four, the state comptroller; and one to the Justice Department.

“By far, the greatest number of complaints have been litigants who feel that they didn’t get a fair shake by the system and oftentimes they’ll go after a judge,” Klonick said, noting many times there is no basis for the complaint and litigants are simply unhappy the case didn’t go their way.

“The commission is there to protect the public, in large part, but it’s also there to protect our judiciary who often cannot respond publicly to frivolous complaints,” he said. “They can’t respond about pending cases or cases that may be taken up on appeal.”

Full Article and Source:
Complaints Against Judges are on the Rise


Anonymous said...

Self-policing by the Bar is a joke, and undoubtedly political.

Some years ago I filed a complaint against a NY judge, after studying the authorizing statute and rules.
My claim, among others, was about a $20,000 kickback. The complaint was summarily dismissed, with nothing more.

I didn't file that complaint until after two prior discipline actions against this judge were published.

If the statute says they SHALL (mandatory language of the law)
investigate a facially meritorious claim, isn't a claim of a $20,000 kickback facially meritorious? She had awarded the guardian a $20,000 bonus, on top of his submitted fee bill! What would you call that?

A coverup!

Although she was demoted to a lower civil court based on her misconduct, that didn't make me feel any better about the whole sick "just us" system.

tvfields said...

Will we ever move on FROM COMPLAINING about the ineffectiveness of the disciplinary committees which review complaints against lawyers and judges TO ADVOCATING effective solutions to this problem, such as a Constitutional amendment which

1)GUARANTEES EVERYONE, without exception, who has EVIDENCE of injury due to negligence or wrongdoing by anyone else, without exception, the opportunity to FREELY and FULLY present their evidence to a JURY that is empowered and obligated to investigate, judge and remedy legitimate complaints in a timely manner, and

2)HOLDS ACCOUNTABLE ANYONE, without exception, who obstructs or fails to uphold this right

Kay said...

It's good news that complaints are on the rise. It means people are speaking out!

StandUp said...

Yes, complaints are up, and taking action should be too.

Tim said...

I can think of a couple new complaints filed against a particular judge in the Finger Lakes region.

No word just yet if any action will be taken, but action should be taken and this abusive hag should be disciplined if not removed from the bench all toghther

Anonymous said...

tvfields is right, a complaint will never find a receptive ear. A Constitutional Amendment, however, does not guarantee any enforcement, which can be seen in today's Civil Rights violations and ever increasing proportions.

We have all the laws in place, just no mandatory enforement, including the immunity given the judiciary, the worst offenders of civil rights violations in elder law. EB

Thelma said...

There is no immunity in the Constitution; it is all judge-made law.

Changing the makeup of the discipline panels is a function of the legislators. Change is definitely required, but not by
Constitutional amendment.

The laws protecting us and our rights are already on the books. We need to use PEOPLE POWER to get every agency involved to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

I bet complaints are rising all over the US.