Despite exposés and embarrassments, hundreds of judges preside in New York without law degrees

Despite exposés and embarrassments, hundreds of judges preside in New York without law degrees

Press releases are sent with considerable regularity, brief and basic accounts on the actions taken by the New York State Commission on Judicial Behavior: a judge is sanctioned for misconduct in the bank; Another agrees to give up his job due to suspicious behavior in private life.

Many of the announcements indicate that judges, as part of their agreement with the Commission, undertake not to seek or accept a judicial charge again. And some of the ads include a fact that still packs a surprise hit of the 21st century: disciplined judges are not and have never been lawyers.

Take, for example, the announcement published today June 26: “The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct announced that Gary M Poole, Rose City Court Judge, Wayne County, will waive July 1, 2017 And agreed not to seek or accept a judicial charge at any time in the future. ”

Poole has vowed to resign after the commission began investigating allegations that he engaged in “repeated conduct, unworthy and discouresse to a woman with whom he had been romantically involved.”

Poole has agreed to accept the action of the Commission and signed a clause stating the costs and results. He also waived any privacy protection and signed the stipulation knowing that it would be made public.

“Among other things,” said the announcement of the commission, “the judge shouted degrading and derogatory things about her and her new boyfriend in public, threatened with painful persecution demanded the return of some personal property and threatened to encourage ex-husband to Start a custody battle against their children. ”

Some New York State judges are not required to be lawyers or to have formal legal training, it was a little understood for much of the last century. It has been, at times, attracted notice. In 2006, the New York Times issued a large, bold series on the work of so-called city and town judges, including a 2000 retention court in the state. It was made for a remarkable reading:

“Some courts are not even judged tiny: offices or bank rooms judge no box basement or a jury Sometimes the public is not admitted, witnesses do not collide. Tell the truth and there are no minutes.

Almost three quarters of the judges are not lawyers and many truck drivers, sewer workers or workers – have a poor understanding of most basic legal principles. Some never made it to high school, and at least one is not beyond elementary school.

But serious things happen in these small rooms throughout the state of New York. The people were sent to jail without a plea of ​​guilty or trial, or thrown into their homes without the proper procedure. In violation of the law, the defendants were denied lawyers or have been sentenced to weeks in prison because they can not pay a fine. Frightened women were denied protection from abuse.

The review found overwhelming evidence from decade to decade, and to date, people are often denied basic legal rights. The defendants were illegally imprisoned. Others were subjected to racial and sexual intolerance in an explicit way that seems to come from another place and another time. People were denied the right to a trial, an impartial tribunal and the presumption of innocence …

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